Legal Tips and Resources
Estate planning can be a great tool for people who want to leave behind instructions for how their assets are to be distributed among loved ones. Estate planning can be an emotional process, as not many people want to imagine not being here with those they care about the most.
A lawyer understands this may feel like an odd task, to plan for a time when you are no longer present. Estate planning can require a little bit of soul-searching and forward thinking. The intention of an estate plan is actually to provide relief knowing what you leave behind is going to those who can appreciate it the most.
What Happens if an Estate Plan is Not Written
If you do not create an estate plan before death, then your assets are going to be handled by the state based on intestacy laws. The majority of clients we have consulted with, want to do whatever they can to avoid the court having any hand in how their assets are to be divided among loved ones. It can be devastating to those closest to the deceased, to see the assets get distributed to relatives who are not deserving of such an award.
What to Include in an Estate Plan
Depending on the circumstances, a person’s estate plan may be either a single document, or a set of paperwork with several instructions for managing assets. A lawyer can offer advice as to what types of statements to include in your estate plan. Some people may misjudge estate plans as only being appropriate for those with substantial assets. However, whether your estate is large or modest, you can benefit from planning for the future. In a will within an estate plan, a person can list specifications for:
- What property or monetary assets are to be left with certain family members, friends and/or organizations
- Who is appointed to act as a guardian for dependent children and/or pets
- Who has been chosen to uphold the role of executor, to manage the estate after passing, pay outstanding debts/taxes, and distribute remaining assets to those listed in the will
- Preferences for medical treatment in case you become incapacitated
Writing a Living Trust
It is fairly common for people to inquire about how to create an estate plan with a revocable living trust, which permits certain people to control assets during the lifetime of the testator (creator of the estate plan). After the testator passes away, the ownership of property within the trust is shifted right away to the named trustee or trustees. In this way, the trust will not have to be processed through probate, which can be costly and time-consuming for beneficiaries.
If you are interested in getting help when creating your estate plan, call an estate lawyer Phoenix, AZ offers to book your free consultation. They will do what is within their power to support you as you write such a influential and critical document.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at Kamper Estrada, LLP for their insight into estate planning and how to prepare for the future.