Thinking about what happens to your hard-earned assets and property after you die is uncomfortable for many people. However, planning for the future can be crucial for any family. By making an estate plan, you can protect your loved ones and ensure your property goes where you want. Preparing in advance could ease the process of settling your affairs, save your family probate expenses and taxes, and give you peace of mind.
A Wexford estate planning lawyer is ready to listen to your goals and concerns for your family. Our local attorneys could help you understand all the estate planning tools that are available to you and choose the ones that best suit your needs.
Your estate includes all the assets you hold in your name. After your death, probate is the legal process for gathering that property, using it to pay your taxes and debts, and distributing the remainder to your heirs. Probate often takes a year or longer. Any delays or disputes can cause hardship for your heirs. Our Wexford attorneys could help you build a comprehensive estate plan, reducing the possibility of challenges arising during probate.
In some cases, an estate plan could even help you avoid probate or reduce the assets that must undergo this process. One way to distribute your assets outside of probate is to hold them jointly. A home that you have in joint possession with a spouse or other loved one passes to them immediately when you die. Similarly, having one or more joint bank accounts could ensure your relatives don’t wait for probate to end before they can access this money. However, to best protect all your property and assets, you may need to implement a variety of estate planning tools.
Estate plans can get complicated, but they also can be very simple. There are a wide range of documents that you might consider implementing, and our Wexford estate planning attorneys can tailor our suggestions to your needs.
A will accomplishes several things. It designates a party—a person, charity, or another legal entity, like a trust—to receive your property after you die. It also names an Executor, who is the person you designate to oversee these affairs.
A will can also include a guardianship arrangement for your children or decedents. A court must approve this decision before the person can legally assume their duties as guardian. One of our attorneys could explain why a court might object to a specific person being a guardian.
Though many people think trusts are for the wealthy, a trust could be a valuable estate planning tool for any family. The property you place into a trust doesn’t need to go through probate, so it could be an effective way to ensure your heirs get access to your property as soon as possible upon your death.
A special needs trust is a specific type of estate planning document that benefits incapacitated or disabled family members. These trusts can provide financial assistance to beneficiaries without endangering their eligibility for government disability or other benefits. Our attorneys could help you figure out the best way to implement a trust in your unique estate plan.
A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document that gives someone the ability to act and handle financial matters on your behalf while you are still alive. These documents designate an “agent” and describe the specific actions this agent can and cannot take on your behalf. People often set up a POA to only go into effect in the event they become incapacitated.
Most POAs name an agent and a successor agent in case the original choice can’t carry out their duties. You could also name multiple agents and direct them to make decisions together. A proactive lawyer could help you craft a POA document that helps you and your family prepare for the unexpected.
You can never predict what will happen in the future, but having an effective estate plan in place can give you a sense of security, knowing that your assets and family will be protected from unforeseen complications. If you don’t have an estate plan or you have one that needs updating, one of our legal professionals would be happy to help.
Schedule a consultation with a Wexford estate planning lawyer today to learn more.