Estate planning attorneys always emphasize the fact that there is no one-size-fits-all estate plan that is right for everyone. There are different ways that assets can be transferred so you should explore your options and make fully informed decisions.
That being said, there is a basic structure that applies to everyone, and we will look at the five documents everyone must have in this post.
Asset Transfer Vehicle
The first necessity is an assets transfer vehicle. A will is one possibility, but a trust of some kind will often be a better choice unless the situation is extremely simple and straightforward.
The revocable living trust is the ideal alternative for a wide range of people, and the benefits are very appealing. First, there is no loss of control because you would act as the trustee while you are alive and well.
You would name a successor to assume the role when the time comes, and you can name a disability trustee to administer the trust in the event of your incapacity.
If you want to provide asset protection for the beneficiaries, you can include a spendthrift provision, and the assets would be protected from creditors. You could instruct the trustee to distribute the assets incrementally over time to prevent inheritance squandering.
The estate administration process would be streamlined because the property would be neatly listed on a schedule, and there would be consolidated ownership.
This is one of a number of different types of trusts that can be used. We will not list them all here, but know that there are many tools in the estate planning toolkit.
How do you feel about life support if you were in a dire condition with no ability to communicate? You can answer this question in a legally binding manner if you execute a living will.
In addition to the life-support issue, you can express your organ and tissue donation choices and comfort care medication preferences in a living will.
Durable Powers of Attorney (Health and Financial)
Medical situations can arise unrelated to the life-support issues that are addressed in your living will. To account for this, you can name a representative in a durable power of attorney for health care.
In addition to life-threatening physical health challenges, many elders experience cognitive impairment late in their lives. Alzheimer’s disease strikes over 30 percent of those over age 85, and there are other underlying causes.
To account for this possibility, you can name a financial decision-maker in a durable power of attorney for property.
Medical professionals cannot release information to anyone other than the patient under a provision contained within the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
However, you could include a HIPAA release in your incapacity plan to give your agent and anyone else you choose the clearance to receive the information.
Access Our Free Worksheet!
We update this blog often so you may want to bookmark it and come back and visit to stay up-to-date. In addition to the blog, we offer other written materials, including our estate planning worksheet.
This resource has been carefully prepared to give you a more thorough understanding of this important process, and it is offered free of charge. To get your copy, visit our worksheet access page and follow the simple instructions.
Need Help Now?
If you came to our site because you are interested in working with an estate planning attorney to put a plan in place, there is no time like the present. You can schedule a consultation at our office in Charlotte, North Carolina or Huntersville, North Carolina if you call us at 704-944-3245.
Our location in Ashland, Kentucky can be reached at 606-324-5516, and our location in Florence, Kentucky can be reached at (859) 372-6655. We also have a contact form you can fill out if you would rather send us a message.