Estate Planning Essentials:
An Estate Plan is a Set of Formal Written Instructions for Your Family, Doctors, Courts and others regarding your:
It also empowers individuals to act on your behalf.
It keeps you in charge as long as you are alive and well.
It minimizes the need for guardianship or probate.
Powers of Attorney:
Authorizes a person that you choose to make decisions for you. If no power of attorney is in place and your are hospitalized or become unable to communication or make transactions, the agent you select will have that role. These may decisions about your finances, property, health and/or living situation.
If you do not have a Power of Attorney and become incapacitated, your family may not have the power to make critical decisions unless a court grants a guardianship.
Advanced Healthcare Directives:
Instructs family and doctors about the care you want or don’t want at the end of your life.
It is followed when you are unable to speak for yourself.
Provides basic choices regarding lifesaving care, feeding tubes for food and hydration.
Can name a health care proxy to make other care decisions.
No Advanced Directive: Can cause family disagreements concerning your care and end up in court.
Provides for payment of debts and expenses
Names a person to be in charge
Disposes of property left in your name
Requires a Court to admit it to probate
No Will (or other plan): Probate property will be distributed according to intestacy statutes and involve cumbersome probate procedures.
Avoids probate court
Can be changed
Can protect family from predators
Can protect assets from poor decisions
Works while you are alive
No Trust: Probate may be required to transfer titles to properties.
Transfer on Death
Vehicles, Minerals & Land
Easy to set up
Inexpensive to create
Negative: Possible Disinheritance
Life Insurance & Annuities
IRA, 401k, 403b other Retirement
Bank / Credit Union Accounts & CDs
Disadvantages: Limited Contingency
Estate Planning involves a skill set that identifies how property is held and how it is passed upon death. It also involves knowing what danger signs are ahead and how to plan for them. Knowledge of the formalities of various documents is a necessity to an effective estate plan.