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Everyone should have an estate plan that directs the distribution of their real estate, bank accounts, retirement plans, investments, personal property, and other assets.
An Estate plan will also appoint your Personal Representative, Executor, Trustee, or other legal representative. It is unwise to allow needless court costs, legal fees, and estate taxes to cut into the inheritance you leave for your heirs, or even worse, to let lawyers or the state distribute your heir’s inheritance for you. Many Americans do not understand the concept of estate planning and have never created a will. Without an estate plan, your survivors may be left confused or vulnerable to lawsuits. An effective estate plan can provide guidance to heirs and protect valuable assets belonging to your estate. If your estate is large or if you have experienced major life changes, it is advisable to review your estate plan at least every few years.
Your will is only one part of an estate plan, your strategy might include the use of a trust to manage the use of your property during your lifetime and the distribution of that property after your death. There are also non-probate transfers of property such as beneficiary designations, pay-on-death-accounts, and joint tenancy. Eligibility for benefits such as Medicaid, Social Security, and preparations for long-term care should also be assessed in the preparation or review of your estate plan.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER I DIE?
The process of distributing the bequests under a will is known as Estate Administration and when problems arise, the process is known as Probate. We can assist your Personal Representative and/or Trustee in taking the necessary steps to distribute your property to the rightful heirs, to make the process as expedient and cost efficient as possible, and to avoid problems that arise in Probate, such as a will contest or creditor’s claims.
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WHAT IF I NEED HELP MANAGING MY AFFAIRS DURING MY LIFETIME?
An estate plan must address the management of property and medical decisions in the event of a person’s incapacity or disability. Durable powers of attorney are important to have if there is a medical emergency. The preparation of living will should also be considered. A guardianship and conservatorship involves the court appointment of a fiduciary in those situations when a power of attorney is not sufficient to manage a person’s needs.