Estate Planning Questions And Answers
Whether or not you have a lot of money or property, a well-crafted estate plan is a great legacy to leave to your loved ones.
The attorneys at Coodin & Overson, PLLP, have years of experience helping people to draft wills, trusts, powers of attorney and other documents that smooth difficult transitions, preserve assets, protect loved ones, provide for charities and meet many needs and goals.
However, there are many common misconceptions about what estate plans can do, who they are for, and how they can be created. Below are answers to some frequently asked questions.
What Happens If I Die Without A Will?
If you die without a will or other estate planning documents, the state creates a plan for you, and the result may be something very different from what you would have wanted or what your loved ones need.
A probate court must determine how to distribute your assets after your death. If you have a valid will, you have made these decisions in advance, and your decisions are legally binding. If you don’t, the court uses state guidelines to track down your relatives and distribute your assets to your nearest kin. The process takes time, and a large part of your estate may go toward paying court fees, meaning less to go around for your loved ones. It is not uncommon in these situations for close companions to be left with nothing while a distant relative inherits everything.
What Is A Living Will?
A living will is, essentially, a set of instructions for what should happen after a person is incapacitated by injury or illness. Your living will can include documents, such as a power of attorney, to establish another person to make decisions on your behalf, should you become incapable of doing so. You can also establish a health care directive to make medical decisions in advance. A living will may also help establish a guardianship/conservatorship to give a trusted person the authority to make decisions for you if you lose the ability to do so for an extended period.
Do I Need A Lawyer To Write A Will?
The best answer is yes. There are many resources today offering forms that purport to allow you to write and execute your own will. However, these often lead to more problems than they are worth. Fixing the mess created by a bad will can be more expensive and frustrating for your heirs than creating a good will in the first place.
A will is a very personal document and a legally binding tool. To accomplish what you want it to do, a will should be designed specifically for you by a lawyer who knows how to draft a document that will meet your goals and stand up to scrutiny in probate court.
Do I Need A Trust?
Everyone should have some kind of estate plan, including a will, a power of attorney and a health care directive, but not everyone needs a trust. However, a trust is a very useful tool that can be tailored to meet a wide variety of needs, including preserving assets and caring for vulnerable loved ones. Ask our attorneys about your options with trusts.
When Should I Start Work On My Estate Plan?
Now is the time to begin work on your estate plan. You don’t have to be old or very wealthy. You just have to want to prepare for the future and make things easier for your loved ones.