It's important to make the right decisions with your estate plan, for example, whether you should use a will or trust. A decision is even more important. A decision is even more important, and it is common. This summary provides an overview of the decisions you will need to make regarding your estate plan.
Please note that this overview is only intended as an introduction to these decisions. If you were to hire our law firm to help you with your estate plan, we will discuss all of these decisions in greater detail before drafting any legal documents. There are two documents that would be effective during your lifetime and that are extremely important in case you become incapacitated and unable to speak for yourself. With these documents, you greatly reduce the need for a judicial appointment of a guardian or conservator, which is a costly and time-consuming process.
This document transfers to another person (who is called your “de facto attorney”) the ability to conduct business transactions on your behalf. This would include, but is not limited to, banking, insurance, real estate and securities transactions. You will need to identify both a principal de facto lawyer and an alternative de facto lawyer. This document allows you to designate another person (called a “health care agent”) to make health care decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.
This may include decisions regarding surgery, medications, care professionals, and arrangements. You will need to appoint a primary and alternative health care agent. Upon your death, your designated personal representative will gather the assets and distribute them in accordance with your will through the probate court process. You will need to appoint someone to act as your personal representative, as well as an alternate personal representative.
The Trustee is responsible for managing and distributing the assets of any testamentary trust created under your will or revocable trust. The trustee will have the ongoing responsibilities associated with the administration of these trusts. You will need to designate one person to serve as trustee and a second person as alternate trustee. How to support your surviving spouse Under the “absolute” option, your spouse would become the sole owner of all your property after your death.
However, the direct option can become problematic if the surviving spouse decides to remarry. In this case, your surviving spouse may find yourself in a difficult position. Your spouse will disappoint your children by naming your new spouse as the new beneficiary, or disappoint your new spouse by keeping your children as named beneficiaries after your death. This can be further complicated if your spouse has additional children with their new spouse.
Under the “marriage trust” option, all of your assets become legally owned by a “marriage trust” for the exclusive benefit of your surviving spouse. In this scenario, your spouse is entitled to receive all income and sufficient capital distributions to maintain the standard of living that you both enjoyed during your joint life. Upon the death of your spouse, all assets remaining in the Marriage Trust are distributed according to your estate plan, not according to your spouse's estate plan, which may have been reviewed after your death. If you have live children, you will need to decide (i) how much each child should receive (either a specific dollar amount or a specific percentage of their total assets), as well as (ii) the terms of distribution to each child.
Having decided how much each child should receive, the next question is to determine the terms of the distribution. Again, there are two options, either immediately (“total”) or under the structure of a testamentary trust for your continued benefit (“in trust”). Some common questions regarding whether or not an estate plan is necessary for you. Each person's situation is unique, what would your plan look like?.
Estate Planning 101: Your Guide to Key Decisions and Difficulties. When it comes to planning your estate, some of the most important decisions you need to make include choosing who will serve under your power of attorney (we'll call them your agent), who will act as your health care agent on your health care directive, who will act as executor of your will (now called your representative) personal) and who will act as trustee of your trust or trusts. All of these positions are considered fiduciary positions. These positions require service providers to do only what is best for you and not in your own interests.
This agreement usually lasts until you recover and can regain control or until your death, at which point your other estate planning documents, such as your will and trust, take over. Whether male or female; married, widowed, divorced or single; middle class or wealthy; young or old, every individual and family benefits from the estate planning process. Your estate plan should not be standardized, but individualized, depending on your particular objectives and circumstances. However, without sound estate planning, any type of agreement you have made might not be maintained after your death.
A successful estate plan also includes provisions that allow your family members to access or control your assets, in case you are unable to do it yourself. And up to 8% of the assets of the estate can be consumed by attorney's fees, appraisal fees and more. If you die without a will, your estate will end up in probate court and the courts will decide who will inherit your possessions and assets. Depending on the ownership of your assets and the assets you have in place, your assets will be transferred according to state law.
Again, each of the options listed above has both advantages and disadvantages, so it is best to have a comprehensive package of estate planning documents and thoroughly review your assets by an experienced estate planning attorney. Depending on your estate plan, you may want to name your estate as a beneficiary, a specific trust, or a family member as the beneficiary. Creating a comprehensive estate plan to manage your assets and support your loved ones after you die is one of the most rewarding tasks you can undertake. Your help and guidance made my work as executor of the estate much easier to understand, as I have never had experience in matters like this.
In this digital age, you not only need a will, trust, and documented powers of attorney, but also a digital vault where you can securely store, access, and even share this estate planning information with family members and beneficiaries. Without an estate plan, courts will often decide who gets your assets, a process that can take years, accrue fees and get ugly. The sooner you start thinking about estate planning, the more time you have to make sure you're feeling good about all the important and detailed decisions you have to make. If you have potential problems with creditors or work in an industry that is often subject to litigation (such as the medical industry or owners of commercial or residential real estate), there are several vehicles (such as a partnership or trust) available to isolate your assets from future creditors.