Knowing the details of what an estate plan can do for you can be hard to know without having a trusted estate planning attorney near me. Ruesch and Reeve has skilled estate planning attorneys here to help you, and we can help walk through the top five components to estate planning that can benefit your future.
Why is an estate plan important?
An estate plan is a set of legal documents that outline how a person’s assets will be managed and distributed after their death or in some cases, when they are rendered incapable to make their own decisions. Here are some reasons why having an estate plan prepared by a trusted estate planning attorney near me is important:
- Ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes;
- Minimize taxes and expenses;
- Protect your family and assets;
- Avoid unnecessary probate; and
- Provide peace of mind
An estate plan is a crucial component of financial planning, regardless of the size of your estate. It can provide peace of mind, protect your assets, and ensure that your wishes are carried out after your death or incapacity. Call Ruesch and Reeve to find a trusted estate planning attorney near me.
A will is a legal document that specifies how a person’s assets will be distributed after their death. A will also identifies the person or people who will be responsible for carrying out the wishes expressed in the will.
Wills only become effective after a person’s death, and it must be declared valid by the probate court before it is used to transfer any assets. In addition, a will does not necessarily protect all of a person’s assets from creditors, lawsuits, or taxes, so other estate planning tools, such as trusts, may be necessary for more comprehensive asset protection. This is why it is important to hire an estate planning attorney that you can trust.
Key elements of a will:
- Distribution of assets: A will specifies who will receive a person’s assets after their death. This includes any property, money, or other assets that they own.
- Executor: The will names an executor, a person who will be responsible for carrying out the wishes expressed in the will. This person is responsible for managing the estate, paying any debts and taxes, and distributing assets to the beneficiaries.
- Guardianship: Wills can also be used to name guardians for any minor children, who will take care of them in the event of the parent’s death.
- Other provisions: Wills may include other provisions, such as instructions for funeral arrangements, charitable donations, and other specific requests a person may have when they pass away.
A trust is a legal entity that can be part of an estate plan, and it allows a person to transfer their assets to a trustee, who manages the assets on behalf of the beneficiaries. The trustee can be a person or entity (such as a bank or trust company), who has a fiduciary duty to manage the assets in the best interest of the beneficiaries. Unlike a will that only comes into effect upon a person’s passing, a trust is effective immediately after it is signed.
There are different types of trusts, such as revocable trusts, which can be modified or revoked during the trustor’s lifetime, and irrevocable trusts, which cannot be modified or revoked once they are created. Trusts can be used to achieve a variety of estate planning goals, such as avoiding probate, minimizing taxes, protecting assets from creditors, and providing for the needs of loved ones.
Key elements of a trust:
- Trustor: The person who creates the trust and transfers assets to it is called the trustor, or grantor.
- Trustee: The trustee is responsible for managing the assets in the trust and distributing them to the beneficiaries according to the terms of the trust.
- Beneficiaries: The beneficiaries are the people who will receive the assets in the trust. They can be individuals, organizations, or even pets.
- Terms of the trust: The trust outlines how the assets in the trust will be managed and distributed, and it can include specific instructions for the trustee to follow. For example, the trust may specify that certain assets can only be used for certain purposes, such as funding a child’s education.
Power of attorney
A power of attorney is a legal document that grants someone the authority to act on your behalf in financial and/or medical matters if you become incapacitated or unable to make decisions for yourself. They are often used in estate plans to ensure peace of mind that the person you trust is put in a position to make sure your wishes are met. Without a power of attorney, it may be necessary for a court to appoint a guardian or conservator to manage your affairs, which can be a lengthy and costly process.
In addition to a financial power of attorney, you may also want to consider a healthcare power of attorney, which grants someone the authority to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so. Together, these documents can ensure that your wishes are carried out in the event that you are unable to make decisions for yourself.
Key elements of a power of attorney:
- Principal: A power of attorney will refer to you as the principal, the person who grants the power to the agent to act on your behalf on any financial and/or medical decisions you may have.
- Agent: The person who is granted the power of attorney is called the agent or attorney-in-fact. This person is authorized to make financial and/or medical decisions on your behalf.
- Scope of authority: The power of attorney can be general, giving the agent broad authority to act on your behalf, or it can be limited, giving the agent specific authority to handle certain matters.
- Durability: A “durable” power of attorney means that the agent can act even if you become disabled or incapacitated. A power of attorney created under Utah law is durable unless it expressly states that it terminates when you become incapacitated.
Healthcare directives, also known as advance directives or living wills, are legal documents that are often included in an estate plan which provide guidance to healthcare providers and family members about the medical treatment you would like to receive if you become incapacitated and are unable to make decisions for yourself.
Having a healthcare directive in place can provide you peace of mind that your wishes regarding medical treatment will be carried out, even if you are unable to communicate them. It can also help family members from having to make difficult decisions about your care during a time of stress and uncertainty.
In addition to a healthcare directive, you may also want to consider a financial power of attorney, which grants someone the authority to make financial decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so. Together, these documents can ensure that your wishes are carried out if you are unable to make decisions for yourself.
Key elements of a healthcare directive:
- Medical treatment preferences: The healthcare directive outlines your preferences for medical treatment, such as whether you would like to receive life-sustaining treatments, like artificial respiration or feeding tubes.
- Healthcare agent: The healthcare directive may also designate a healthcare agent, who is a person you trust to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so.
- End-of-life wishes: The healthcare directive can also express your wishes regarding end-of-life care, such as whether you would like to be kept comfortable and pain-free if you are terminally ill or in a persistent vegetative state.
- Organ Donation: If you wish to donate your organs when you pass away, there is an option in the healthcare directive to do so.
Beneficiary designations are another important part of estate planning, and they can help ensure that your assets are distributed to the people or organizations you intend to receive them. Beneficiaries are commonly used for retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and other financial accounts.
It’s important to review your beneficiaries periodically to ensure they still reflect your wishes. Marriage, divorce, childbirth, major health changes, and similar situations are good times to review your beneficiaries to ensure your assets are distributed according to your current wishes.
Beneficiary designations, alongside with wills and trusts, may be necessary to ensure all of your assets are distributed according to your wishes. An estate planning attorney can help you determine the best approach for your specific situation.
Key elements of beneficiary designations:
- Beneficiaries: The beneficiary is the person or organization you name to receive the asset upon your death.
- Contingent beneficiaries: You may also name a contingent beneficiary, who will receive the asset if the primary beneficiary predeceases you.
- Avoiding probate: Beneficiary designations can help your assets avoid probate, which can be a lengthy and costly process. When you name a beneficiary, the asset passes directly to the beneficiary without going through probate.
- Flexibility: Beneficiary designations can be changed at any time, allowing you to update your estate plan as your circumstances change.
Contact Ruesch and Reeve to find a trusted estate planning attorney near me
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