You work hard to build a legacy for your loved ones. No matter what your financial picture is, you should have an estate plan. A Fort Oglethorpe trust and estate lawyer could help you build the framework necessary to protect your family’s financial future. A good plan could address things like what happens if you become unable to make decisions regarding both your financial and physical health.
While you may not want to approach the subject of incapacity and death, estate planning could bring you and your family peace of mind. Trust attorneys and estate lawyers are ready to walk with you on the journey to planning your future.
A will is a document that directs what happens with someone’s assets when they die. The will appoints an executor who is responsible for taking inventory of the assets and selling or distributing them according to the testator’s wishes. If a person dies without a written will, the probate court considers them “intestate”, and State intestacy succession law then directs the disposition of assets.
A trust and estates attorney may advise that a will contain a living trust, often to avoid probate.
Probate is the legal process for distributing a person’s assets after death. Importantly, however, assets in a trust do not need to go through the legal probate process.
Every estate plan should include a financial power of attorney (POA). A POA is a document that appoints an agent to enact another’s affairs and in the event of that person’s incapacitation. Decisional incapacitation might occur through an accident or illness like dementia. The POA allows the agent to pay bills, access insurance, sell assets, and otherwise take care of the principal’s financial well-being.
Another crucial document a trust lawyer or estate attorney could prepare is a healthcare power of attorney, sometimes called a Medical POA. This document appoints a proxy to make medical decisions for another. Serious illness or trauma can bring families into conflict and confusion around treatment. The appointment of a healthcare proxy allows one person to carry out the wishes of the incapacitated party.
An estate lawyer could, in certain situations, create a living trust to incorporate into a will. A living trust contains instructions for what happens to assets if a person becomes incapacitated or dies. When an estate attorney creates a trust, they will transfer property to the trust. When a person sets up a trust, they still maintain control of the property. However, upon death, that trust property does not go through the probate court. A Fort Oglethorpe trust and estates lawyer could explain the distinct advantages of avoiding probate. Court filings are accessible to the public, so by avoiding probate, a trust can keep financial assets private after death.
There are several kinds of trusts an estate attorney could create, each focused on specific factual scenarios. For example, parents may have a child with physical or mental health issues requiring a special needs trust. Of course, there are critical tax implications in every phase of estate planning. A trust law firm could anticipate and address tax consequences, often saving money for beneficiaries. Additionally, a trust and estates law firm could also help with trust administration.
After a lifetime of work, you want the distribution of your assets to reflect your wishes. A Fort Oglethorpe trust and estate lawyer could create an estate plan that respects your unique vision. Estate law firms could support your legacy plans and could work with you to build a framework that protects what you have created. Reach out today to start with a confidential consultation.