No one wants to discuss death or what they want to happen to their estate after their passing, but it is important to you and your family to make sure that you have a properly executed Will, Power of Attorney and Living Will in place in case something happens to you. Whether you have significant or few assets, solid estate planning is vital to ensuring that your assets end up with those you want them to, and if you are a parent that your children are cared for.
Without a Will you are leaving it up to the State to decide how your assets shall be disbursed. Will your spouse or surviving child get all of your assets or will they be divided with others? Is this a question you want to answer for yourself or let the State provide the answer for you? When a person passes without a Will that lack of direction can lead to animosity and infighting amongst family members each of whom believe they know what you would have wanted. Isn’t it worth sitting down and making sure you have a properly executed Will to avoid this strife and disharmony?
Most importantly for parents, who will take care of your children if you and your spouse pass? This is a question I am sure every parent out there wants to answer for themselves. Without a Will, there is no direction for the assets or care of the spouse and children. Do you want your children getting their entire inheritance on their 18th birthday or would you prefer that money be spread out over a number of years to help pay for the child’s future expenses such as college? Unless you leave a Will which answers each and every one of these questions it will be up to the Court to decide what they think is best.
Many unforeseen problems can be avoided with proper estate planning. All of the assets can be directed to the surviving spouse. In the event of a double tragedy, the money can be directed into trust accounts for the children, to be used for their benefit and education, to be paid in periodic installments at an age that you specify. There is so much that can be done to protect your family with wise estate planning. It may even be possible, when appropriate, to avoid probate court entirely.
Information to Bring for Your Estate Planning Consultation
- Names, addresses, and phone numbers of the individuals to be included in your estate planning documents
- Information as to any special needs for yourself, spouse or dependents
- List of assets
- List of liabilities and debts
- Most recent income tax returns
- Dates of marriage (present and prior) and divorce where applicable
- The names of those you wish to act as executor and in the case of those with children as Testamentary Guardian and Trustees as well as alternates for each of those positions
- List of specific bequests, if any, and beneficiaries of your estate as well as the name of any charity.
Power of Attorney
Who will handle your finances should something tragic happen to you? Who will be able to access your bank accounts or sign for you should an asset need to be sold while you are incapacitated? These are vital questions that are often overlooked by people who do not wish to think about the possibility that tragedy may strike them. Yet unless these questions are answered and a properly executed Power or Attorney is drafted then you may be leaving your loved ones in a painful and tragic situation. With the rising cost of medical care it is an unfortunate reality that should you or a loved one need long term treatment you may be forced to sell assets to afford the necessary care. However, without a Power of Attorney no one will be able to access your money or assets on your behalf. It is important therefore to determine who you feel will best represent your interests and have a Power of Attorney drafted.
The passing of a loved one, foreseeable or not, is always a devastating experience. During this difficult time a person or persons, likely close to the deceased, will be named as the Executor and Administrator or Trustee of the deceased’s estate and it will be this person’s or persons’ responsibility to see to the administering of the estate.
Simply stated, administering an estate is the process of locating all the deceased’s assets, paying any remaining debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining assets to the heirs pursuant to the wishes contained in the deceased’s Will. What may appear to be a simple process can be filled with legal dangers. An executor may worry about ignoring tax elections, overlooking an outstanding debt or creditor and missing deadlines which can end up costing the estate money. The attorneys at LevinCyphers can assist you in administering the deceased’s Estate to make sure you don’t fall into one of the many possible pitfalls.
With the recent advances in medicine and medical testing along with the recent boon in the area of living and eating healthy it is possible for people to live much longer than we previously imagined. Because of these long lives there are modern questions being asked that can affect our seniors, their families and their caregivers, which can cause stress and sleepless nights in what should be a peaceful time such as:
- What can I do to protect me and my assets?
- Will I be able to afford long term care?
- Do I need Medicaid and how do I qualify?
- What will happen to my assets if my spouse needs a long term care facility?
- Who will make my healthcare decisions for me if I am unable to?
- Should I create a trust?
- How can I leave the most to my children and grandchildren without losing control of my finances?
The attorneys at LevinCyphers can assist you in answering these tough questions and help you draft the estate plan that is tailored for you and your family.
by Colleen Flynn Cyphers A durable power of attorney is a document that allows you to name a person or persons that will be in [...]