Many people are under the misconception that estate planning only involves drafting up a will to leave your belongings to whatever heirs you choose. They do not realize that there are multiple elements of estate planning that should be addressed and while wills are an important part of that process, it certainly does not address all the issues that may arise. An estate planning attorney can explain the process to you and go over what elements would be the best choices for your situation. In the meantime, the following is a general overview.
Estate Planning Is Not Only for Death
Another misconception about estate planning is that it only addresses issues that come up after a person dies. The truth is that there are important issues that often arise when a person is alive that having a solid estate plan in place can ensure that there will be no problems between family members. If you have made financial investments, including real estate or other types of income-generating products, you will want to make sure these things are protected should you become ill or otherwise incapacitated. If you own a family business, you will also want to make sure that entity is well-insulated from any problems in the event you are unable to make needed decisions.
An estate planning lawyer Abingdon, VA residents trust can help you set up the proper documents, such as power of attorney, that will go into effect if needed. This allows you to choose the person you trust to make those decisions and not have the courts do it for you.
We all know families or have heard about families where a loved one has become so ill or incapacitated they are no longer able to make their own medical decisions. When this happens, someone needs to have the authority to be a proxy. You have the right to make your own medical decisions as to what you will and will not allow as life-saving measures and if you are unable to do so, it is important to have someone else you trust to speak for you when you are unable to do so.
Your estate planning attorney can document those wishes in an advance medical directive, also referred to a living will. You can also have your attorney draw up the paperwork that will appoint a healthcare power of attorney who will make sure your wishes for medical treatment are kept.
If you have young children and something happens to you, an estate plan can ensure they will be taken care of. You can name who you want to be the legal guardian, keeping full control of who will raise your child should you no longer be here. If you do not have this type of document in place, then the court will decide who will raise your child and it will not necessarily be the person you would have chosen.
You can also use estate planning tools to set up financial provisions for your children. Trusts can be formed that will provide for your child as they are growing up, as well as adulthood. By setting up a trust, you have the power to choose who will be the trustee overseeing the funds, as well as when the child should have control when they reach adulthood.
Thank you to our contributors at the law office of Mark T. Hurt for the above information on estate planning.