While we often don’t like to think about dying, it is imperative that we do take the time to ponder the notion and consider how our family members will be taken care of, both immediately and long after we are gone. Regardless of your age or health, a basic Estate Planning package is beneficial in ensuring your final wishes are followed through and that your family gets as many of your assets as possible.
Proper estate planning, with a Last Will and Testament, Healthcare Directive, Living Will, Durable Power of Attorney, and Trusts when necessary, can save your loved ones a lot of time, stress and money.
With the assistance of an estate planning attorney, probate avoidance is very possible and more of your assets can go to your loved ones instead of legal expenses.
- Basic Will – A basic will is a legal document that directs the probate court as to how you would like your assets distributed. In your will, you will appoint a personal representative to oversee the probate process, and if necessary you can also designate a guardian for your minor children in your will. While a will is an essential building block to any estate plan – and will certainly make the probate process smoother – it still must be verified in court and the assets must go through probate before distribution. While in probate, legal fees, taxes and court costs are paid from the estate of the decedent, inevitably decreasing the amount the beneficiaries will receive in the end. To ensure probate avoidance, further estate planning is usually necessary but having a will in place will expedite the probate process and ensure that your wishes are carried out after your death.
- Durable Power of Attorney (POA) – This is a document that goes into effect upon signing but in the event you become incapacitated or unable to handle your own matters it does not terminate. You authorize an individual or individuals that you personally select to act on your behalf. The POA can be as broad or as limited as you specify. It can involve selling and holding property, signing tax returns and checks, entering into contracts or agreements, withdrawing funds or making deposits, maintaining business interests and more.
- Health Care Directive – This is a document that goes into effect upon signing but in the event you become incapacitated or unable to handle your own matters it does not terminate. You authorize an individual or individuals that you personally select to act on your behalf in regards to your medical needs.
- Living Will – This is a legal document that enables your medical providers and loved ones know your desires for medical treatment and end of life care. It can include whether you would want life support equipment, if you are willing to undergo particular medical testing, if you would want to undergo surgical procedures, whether you would opt for various treatment options or even if you would like to donate your organs. This document can reduce the stress faced by your loved ones because they would not be forced to make these decisions for you.
These documents are all included within the basic estate planning package. Depending upon your assets and goals, you may want to form a Trust to avoid the probate process when possible. A free consultation with attorney Heidi Webb, an experienced Estate Planning and Elder Law lawyer in Daytona Beach, can help you come up with the best plan for your individual situation and the needs of your family. She will gladly take the time to explain the process to you and make recommendations based on your situation.
Heidi S. Webb, Attorney at Law serves clients in Daytona Beach, Ormond Beach, Port Orange, and beyond with matters of Elder Law, Estate Planning, and Small Business Law. Contact her today to schedule a free consultation. Visit her page on Facebook, or see what her clients are saying to learn more about Heidi.