A thorough estate plan is crucial for protecting your financial legacy. If you have not yet created a comprehensive estate plan, a team of Trenton trust and estates lawyers could help. Even if you have a will, an attorney could and should review your entire estate plan every five years. With an experienced trust and estates law firm, you could ensure that your loved ones have what they need at the ready in the future.
As a trust and estates attorney knows, there are crucial documents that give directions if you become unable to make decisions. A thorough estate plan, outlining your wishes, could relieve your family of many future burdens. Do not hesitate to reach out to an experienced estates law firm for help.
A last will and testament governs the distribution of an individuals’ assets after death. It could also contain living trusts and directions about guardians for minor children or adult children with special needs. In the absence of a will, Tennessee Code § 31-2-101 provides the statutory succession protocol. Without a will, the state takes control of asset distribution. A Trenton trust and estates lawyer knows that a thorough will is the cornerstone of a comprehensive estate plan.
Importantly, there are two other legal instruments vital to an overall estate plan. Both address circumstances where an individual is still alive but unable to make their own decisions. For example, if someone is injured and unable to make decisions, a financial power of attorney (POA) appoints an agent who steps in and has the legal authority to access financial information. They can pay bills, sell or transfer real estate, and do anything else set out in the POA. The POA can be a friend, family member, or an institution like an estates law firm.
A durable medical (or Healthcare) power of attorney appoints someone to make decisions about medical treatment in the event of incapacity. A medical POA sets forth specific instructions regarding CPR, resuscitation, feeding tubes, and other interventions. An experienced estates attorney could draft such a provision for people who wish to plan for such events.
Probate is the court process where an individual’s estate is finalized and distributed after death. A court reviews a will give the executor the powers necessary to carry out the decedent’s wishes. Since probate is a court proceeding, the public has access to filed documents. There are some assets, however, that do not need to go through the probate process. A living trust, for example, does not go through probate. After death, the trustee can manage the assets without court approval. Avoiding probate adds a measure of privacy that many individuals want.
While life insurance proceeds do not go through a will or probate, the court adds the value of the policy to the taxable estate. However, an irrevocable life insurance trust drafted by an experienced trust attorney falls outside the estate, thus lowering tax liability. A trust and estates law firm understands the advantages of living trusts and could draft one for people interested in such a document. Other property outside the will and thus probate includes payable-on-death securities or bank accounts, and certain forms of property ownership.
Other helpful kinds of trusts include a standalone retirement trust and special needs trust, both of which allow assets to avoid probate. Especially in cases of high net worth, living trusts are an invaluable estate planning tool.
When you have worked a lifetime to create a legacy, you need professionals who could work to protect what you want to leave behind. In addition to a will and appropriate trusts, a Trenton trust and estates lawyer could provide you with the estate tools that guide your family if you are unable to make your own financial or medical decisions. An estate plan gives you the security and clarity you and your loved ones need. Call today to obtain the peace of mind you need now and in the future.