Creating a comprehensive estate plan is one of the most effective ways to ensure that your loved ones have the tools they need to arrange for the disposition of your property in the event of your death. A Stafford estate planning attorney can guide you through this daunting process.
Estate planning includes all the steps that go into arranging the future management of your assets in the event of your death. It should also include plans for what to do if you become incapacitated and can no longer make your own legal or medical decisions. A comprehensive estate plan will include plans for all of your assets following your death.
A comprehensive estate plan includes several key documents that will help with the overall distribution of your assets.
A will outlines the basic distribution of your assets after you die. It may lay out specific people whom you want to have specific assets—for example, an heirloom that you want to leave to a specific child or one of your siblings—or include percentage-based distributions of your wealth following your death. It may also help designate things like who you want to take custody of your children in the event of your death or how you will handle protecting your children’s assets if something happens to you.
Trusts help lay out protections for assets on behalf of a beneficiary (or more than one beneficiary). A trust can help keep the funds or assets out of probate, which can prove incredibly beneficial for your heirs.
Beneficiary designations on your life insurance policy will determine who gets the payout in the event of your death—usually your spouse or children. If you have a retirement account, it also needs a beneficiary designation to determine who will benefit from that account if you die before you have the ability to use it.
If you suffer some type of incapacitation that prevents you from making legal decisions for yourself or handling your own bills, who will take care of that process for you? A power of attorney helps lay out a specific individual whom you trust to make those critical legal decisions on your behalf and gives that person the legal power to act for you, whether that means helping you pay your bills or handling legal paperwork.
You may have very specific desires when it comes to your overall medical needs. Health care directives help lay out the specific actions you would like your doctors to take, whether that means helping with specific types of pain management or taking certain measures to save your life—or stopping once specific measures have been implemented. Your health care paperwork should also include a medical power of attorney that will designate who can make medical decisions on your behalf if, for any reason, you cannot.
Many people wonder when to create an estate plan—and the answer is now! If you have assets that need to be distributed upon your death, children who need to be protected, or specific medical considerations that you would like to have taken into account, you need to have an estate plan in place that will legally document those plans and ensure that your needs and desires are taken into consideration, no matter your age.
If you need to create a will, discuss the distribution of your assets, or manage your other estate planning needs, a Stafford estate planning lawyer can help. Contact us today for a free consultation to learn more about our services and how we can help guide you through the estate planning process.
There are several key questions you may want to ask before hiring a Stafford estate planning lawyer.
Make sure you choose a Stafford estate planning lawyer who fits with your specific needs.
A will is one piece of an estate plan, but it is not the entire estate plan. In some cases, other documents, including beneficiary designations on your life insurance policy or your retirement account, may actually supersede the terms laid out in your will, so it’s critical that you have an attorney who will work with you on a complete estate plan.
Estate planning does not require a specific age. You should start thinking about creating an estate plan if:
In general, talking with an estate planning attorney as early as possible can offer considerable benefits. If you have questions, consult a Stafford estate planning lawyer to learn more about the advantages of preparing your estate plan today.