Unplanned and haphazard estate management leads to disoriented financial affairs and estate planning. It isn’t easy for anybody to cope with losing a loved one, and unplanned estate further adds to their woes. Thus, it would be best to chalk out the tools for estate planning. A professional probate lawyer can help you with estate planning.
What Is Estate Planning?
The process of managing your assets, properties, and possessions in the event of death or incapacitation is estate planning. Estate planning includes several strategies and tools. They help to ease the stress of settling the creditors’ financial obligations. Furthermore, it helps in distributing the deceased’s assets without the tax burden, reducing the probate duration, and more.
Your assets include everything that is in your possession, from your shoes to your email id. You can either choose to transfer all your assets either to charity or leave your legacy for your family members.
Nonetheless, proper estate planning enables the testator and the surviving family members to shrink the time-span of prolonging the probate process. It not only reduces the heartaches but also headaches of challenging probate. You can overcome the crisis if you choose from the following tools to plan your estate in an orderly method.
Will: An Essential Estate Planning Tool
A will is the most fundamental estate planning tool. It is a legal document that spells out the distribution of your estate. However, a will is meaningless if it does not comply with the specific legal formalities. Nonetheless, it would help if you meet the following criteria to eliminate contesting of will in the probate court.
- The testator should have attained the legal age of the state or married or a United States military member.
- The testator must be in a sound mind while making the will.
- Nobody should force the testator to prepare the will.
- The will must list all the assets and properties that the testator owns when preparing the will.
- The testator must update the will from time to time. Such as addition or loss of assets, the addition of family members, the death of family members, and so on.
- The will should list the beneficiaries’ names and relationships with the beneficiaries. The beneficiary could include charitable trusts, business, a person, or a group of people.
- The testator should name the executor or executors in his/her will to complete the execution of the will.
- The testator should sign every page of the will.
- One or more witnesses should sign the will depending upon the state law. Alternatively, the witnesses may also sign an affidavit to authenticate their signature.
- The will should mention the name of the spouse and children if any. In the case of a minor child, the testator should also name the guardian.
Trust: An Estate Planning Tool To Avoid Probate
Trust is a viable option to replace a will and avoid probate. A trust is an estate planning tool that allows the transfer of your property’s right of ownership. You can avoid prolonged process of probate with the help of various types of trusts.
- Revocable Trust – The testator can amend the revocable trust from time to time with the beneficiaries’ written consent. However, a revocable trust cannot evade taxes.
- Lifetime or Living Trust – Lifetime trust enables the testator to distribute his estate during the lifetime, or in the event of death or incapacitation.
- Honorary Trust – The trust provides the designated beneficiary provisions to take care of the domestic pet animals belonging to the testator.
- Charitable Trusts – Trust provides facilities for social welfare. Such trust reaps tax benefits.
Power Of Attorney
A power of attorney is a legal tool that authorizes a person to make decisions on behalf of the testator.
- Financial Power Of Attorney – It authorizes the person to manage your assets and make financial decisions if you are incapacitated.
- Health Care Power Of Attorney – It allows the authorized person to make vital decisions regarding your health and treatment procedure on your behalf.
A living will is a legal document that enlists the medical care the testator wants when incapacitated or unable to convey during his/her illness, coma, or accident. It is challenging for family members to decide on the best medical care. However, the presence of a living will ease the traumatic time for your family members.
Irrespective of whether you own a large estate or a complex estate or neither, you would still be in better hands if you plan your estate with the help of a qualified probate lawyer. A proper estate planning tool guarantees a smooth sail through the probate process.