Do you want part of your estate to go to specific charities after your death? Many people wish to leave money to charitable causes in their wills. You can tell your spouse or the person who inherits your assets what you want done, but that’s not a foolproof plan. They might not fully understand what your wishes. It’s important to do proper estate planning to ensure that your money is used the way you wish after you pass. An attorney can help you plan for the appropriate distribution of your assets.
Most people know that making a will is important, but good estate planning sometimes requires more complex paperwork. Estate planning involves evaluating your assets and deciding on the best way to distribute them to beneficiaries. If you want to leave a substantial amount to a charity, your attorney may recommend a charitable trust. There are a wide variety of choices when it comes to charitable trusts. It’s important to work with someone who understands all the options before you commit your financial resources.
What are the advantages of a charitable trust? First, they can be set up in a number of ways. Some trusts allow you to make payments from the trust while you are still alive. Then, at the time of your death, the remainder can be transferred to the charity. Your attorney can set up the trust so that the charity receives annual payments based on a percentage of asset values. Payments can be fixed or unfixed, depending on the structure of the trust.
Many people include trusts as a part of their estate planning. The trust can provide tax advantages for both you and the charity. A qualified attorney can help you structure the trust so that it provides the appropriate benefits for both you and the recipient. You need to make many decisions when setting up a charitable trust and it’s easy to make mistakes if you don’t understand the process. A qualified attorney should discuss your goals and help you with the details involved in estate planning. This way, you’ll understand how and when your assets will be distributed.
When the time comes and you are ready to begin your estate planning, the number of documents you will need can seem overwhelming. While this article is not intended to substitute for consulting with a licensed attorney, the information provided here is going to cover three documents everyone should have.
Creating a Will
A will is one of the most widely known and thought of items when estate planning is mentioned. A persons’ will is the foundation upon which estate planning can begin. Although many people believe you only need a will, consult with an attorney and you will see all the things that cannot be covered in one. Some things that cannot be covered include, jointly owned property or providing care for a person with special needs. Again, the best way to know for sure is by consulting with an estate planning attorney.
Advanced Medical Directive
One of the items not covered in your will is the advanced medical directives. This is the document that will dictate the types of medical care you will receive when incapacitated. You will also be able to dictate who can make those decisions for you in the event you cannot make them. Your living will is a portion of this directive and covers the specifics of what treatments you want. Another form known as the healthcare proxy is used to name the person who can make the decisions regarding your care.
Power of Attorney
A power of attorney is used to give someone else legal authority to make decisions on your behalf. When creating one, you will be given the option of using a general power of attorney or a specific (specialized) power of attorney. A general power of attorney gives someone the legal right to act on your behalf, to sign contracts, and to make other legal binding decisions for you. Alternately, you can have a specific power of attorney made. This will limit the areas in which someone can make a decision on your behalf. Whichever you decide to use, it is likely you will need to have one made when you are taking care of your estate planning.
If you are ready to get started, I recommend that you consult with a licensed lawyer to be certain you have all of the forms you need to protect your assets and ensure they go where you intend.
Is Estate Planning for Everyone or Just the Wealthy?
Estate planning can be defined as the act of managing and arranging for the re-assignment and disposal of one’s assets in the event of their passing or incapacitation. This is often mistakenly thought of as a service only needed by the wealthy or those with a lot of assets; the truth of the matter is everyone needs to plan. The act of planning includes covering legal documents such as wills and trusts.
Avoid DIY Kits!
One of the biggest issues I have ran across recently is people using DIY estate planning services. While these can range from somewhat helpful services to completely inaccurate data, I would like to caution you about purchasing and using these types of kits, which often include nothing more than an E-book download and a few template forms. Although it may seem to be the economical choice, only a licensed and qualified attorney will truly know the ins and outs of state laws and estate planning procedures.
Once you have passed away and the probate court is assigning your assets, each document could come under scrutiny. If you hired a licensed attorney, you can rest assured that your documents will hold up. Is the few dollars you could save on a DIY kit really worth all the arguments that could be caused in settling your last wishes? Most likely the answer is no!
Selecting an Estate Planning Attorney to Assist You
When you are looking for an attorney to help with your estate planning, here are a few questions to ask.
- Do you have experience in Estate Planning?
- How often do you work with wills and trusts?
- How many years have you been practicing as an Attorney?
After asking those simple questions, you should have a pretty good idea of how experienced your potential attorney is in the field. There are of course several other factors that must be considered, and ultimately you should go with your gut feeling.
Estate Planning is not something that anyone looks forward too, the consequences of not planning are far worse though. Hire a qualified attorney and make sure your estate is planned properly.
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