Estate Planning ... What is it?
Often we get asked about Estate Planning and what it is exactly. Simply put, it's taking steps to secure your future wishes and financial affairs.
Essentially, Estate Planning is making sure those you care about are covered in the event of some tragedy. It's often uncomfortable to sit down and talk about what will happen to your assets and possessions in the event something were to happen to you. We sit down with you to make it as comfortable as possible and help plan your future.
There is never a wrong time to start planning your estate. You don't have to wait until your later years to begin. We can always plan your estate in your younger years and update your estate planning documents as your life changes. Here at Daniel Law, PLLC, we will do what we can to ensure you fully understand everything about your Estate Planning.
Do You Need A Will?
We often get asked if someone needs a Will. A will is a legal document that lists out all of your wishes for your assets after you pass away. If you have specific things you wish to leave to individual family members or If you have anything of value at all, you probably need a will. Without a Will, all of your property will be distributed pursuant to Tennessee State Law, which does not always coincide with what you may want for your family.
Your Last Will and Testament will spell out who is to receive your assets, who will serve as the Executor or Executrix of your Will, and who may take over guardianship of your children if you have minor children. A Will only kicks into effect once you've passed away.
What about A Trust?
You can also transfer your property and assets through a Trust. Many times we hear that people don't want to set up a Trust because they don't feel they are wealthy. A Trust isn't just for the rich and famous, it's something that anyone can set up and benefit from during their lifetime. A trust can be set up to take affect while your still alive or after you pass away.
The benefit of a Trust is that your family will avoid Probate Court. If you pass away without a will (intestate), your family will usually wait for a minimum of 4 months for what you've left them. If what you own is inside your trust, there is no waiting period.
What about Beneficiaries?
Beneficiaries are the individuals who will receive your assets after you're gone. They don't always have to be family members. The best part about planning your estate early on is that you're in control and choose who gets what.
Do I need anything besides a Will or Trust?
Part of our Estate Planning process is ensuring you have everything you need in the tragic event something were to happen to you. We will sit down and discuss Power of Attorney documents and Living Will/Advanced Directive.
General Durable Power of Attorney. This document gives someone else the power to make legal and financial decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. (Simply put, anything you can legally do, your agent will be able to do for you.)
Springing General Durable Power of Attorney. This document is the same as the General Durable Power of Attorney as mentioned above, with the exception that it only "Springs" into effect upon your mental incapacity. Essentially, should you be diagnosed with some illness that prevented you from competently taking care of yourself, then your appointed agent would step in at that time to take over.
Healthcare Power of Attorney. This document appoints someone to make medical decisions for you in the event you're unable to make them for yourself.
Healthcare Directive/Living Will/Advanced Directive. This document is often referred to by different names, but no matter what you call it, they all accomplish the same thing. This document spells out your predetermined wishes for medical treatment in the event you're unable to make the decision yourself due to an accident or illness. Example: This document would spell out if you'd want CPR or not.
When and How Do I Plan My Estate?
Estate Planning is uncomfortable. I mean, who wants to sit down and talk about their untimely death or mental incapacity? However, it's very important to start early in life and ensure that it's done properly by an experienced Attorney. An Estate Planning Attorney can help you navigate the legal issues and ensure your wishes are carried out after you pass away.
By ensuring your have all the property estate planning documents in place early on, then it will prevent your family from having to obtain conservatorship over you in the event that you become mentally incapacitated. Conservatorships are expensive and time consuming in court and you leave it up to the Court to decide who should be your Conservator. By planning early on, you can prevent this.
It's also important to review your estate planning documents every few years to ensure it's still up to date and as you wish. Sometimes things happen and change over the years and documents may need to reflect the change. Divorces, family deaths, and other major life events may alter or change they way your Estate Planning documents should be drafted, so it's important to review them with your Attorney periodically.
Everyone needs Estate Planning. It's the only way to ensure you're in control of the distribution of your assets and in control of your future. Be sure to consult with an experienced Estate Planning Attorney to ensure your wishes are carried out.
Give our office a call today at (931) 264-4640 to schedule a consultation.