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Death is not something that is pleasant to talk about. However, it is a reality. And if you have significant material interests to protect, then you should put together a comprehensive estate plan to ensure that your property and assets are distributed according to your wishes.
Estate planning consists not only of written statements about the division of your assets; it can also include directives concerning trusts, health care preferences in the event of mental incapacitation, and powers of attorney that gives a designated person the power to handle these matters. Such documents are designed to protect your friends, family, and other loved ones.
Why You Should Create an Estate Plan:
Estate planning should be done by anyone with significant financial and material interests. You do not have to be wealthy to draw one up. However, those with considerable capital must make estate planning a priority. It is especially important if you have built up a business. You may have mentored and selected the individuals you want to lead the company when you have passed on. With an estate plan you can designate the people you want to run the company while providing financially for your family. You want to get this right, as the livelihoods of hundreds or thousands of workers depend on it.
You also need to create an estate plan if you have property or valuable objects that you want certain individuals to inherit. Doing so will help you preserve such assets for the beneficiaries you designate; it will also minimize infighting amongst your friends and relatives. If you are ever unable to make decisions concerning your health, the directives in your estate plan will make it easy for your loved ones to make such decisions.
Fundamental Estate Plan Documents
An estate plan can include just about anything that stipulates how you want your person and property treated in the event of your death or incapacitation. The following are the most important documents:
A will’s power lies in its words. It sets down who you want to get what. It is a statement that designates the persons who are to inherit your property upon your death. All property not subject to other contractual obligations is transferred to the people you leave it to when you pass away. Having an updated will saves your estate from Auburn Indiana intestate statutes which give a probate judge the power to make decisions about the distribution and division of your property.
A Living Will
This document contains all directives and instructions for medical care. In the event you are taken ill and left without the power to speak, think, or carry out basic mental functions the living will states the person that you have designated to make such decisions for you. This will’s flexibility is such that it can also contain a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order. If you are the victim of a terminal or incurable condition and you can survive only through the application of medical devices, a DNR can save you from unnecessary suffering and prolonged treatment solutions that can drain the estate of money. You should think hard about your end-of-life treatment options. Your lawyer will help you put your wishes into writing.
3.General Durable Power of Attorney
This document allows you to appoint a person to manage your health care, financial, and other decisions. Should you be involved in an accident or suffer an unexpected illness a power of attorney will allow this agent to act on your behalf. Without this document all that you have worked for could be thrown into chaos and dissolution. Your family, friends, and business associates could be forced into a protracted legal struggle to get control of your estate and make decisions in your absence.
Setting up a trust is a good way to help someone while minimizing your tax burden. A living trust holds property and assets for designated beneficiaries. You can act as the primary trustee and select someone else to act as an alternate trustee in the event of your death or incapacitation.
Trusts After Death
You can also create a trust that will come into being after your death. Such a trust can be created based on the assets and property that you leave behind. Many people establish this kind of trust for the education and support of children who are still minors at the time of the death. It is advantageous to do it this way. You want your child to benefit from the wealth you have accumulated. But if you die before they reach adulthood, they will not have the wisdom or experience to manage a large lump sum of money or property. Such children can also be taken advantage of by unscrupulous friends, relatives, and associates. Establishing a trust that stipulates when, how, and on what condition they are to receive the money and property you leave them will protect both them and the estate.
An estate plan can also include instructions for who you want to take care of your children if you pass away before they reach adulthood. The fate of your children should be uppermost in your mind as you prepare your plan. If you pass away prematurely, the courts will determine who will care for your children unless you’ve made your wishes clear in advance.
Planning for the Disabled
If you are a disabled person, then you may need to make special provisions in your estate plan. You will have knowledge and insight into the possible consequences of your condition. You can draw up a plan that gives instructions for each contingency. This will make it easier for your loved ones to act if you are ever incapacitated—temporarily or permanently.
The Consequences of Not Having an Estate Plan
If your property becomes intestate, your family will have to spend precious time and resources trying to divide your property fairly and equitably. If you had a plan for who is to get what, it will go unnoticed. The only way to make your preferences known is to put them in writing. The courts will not accept hearsay, gossip, or verbal agreements.
Families of wealthy people who have died without an estate plan can spend years fighting amongst each other for the spoils of the estate. But it is not only the wealthy who suffer. Even people with a modest estate can unintentionally put their loved ones into difficulty. Families have been known to feud for years over a property that they have owned for generations and was in the care of the deceased. They have also been known to fight over family heirlooms that were in the possession of the departed. If you are in the position of being a kind of custodian of property and valuables that have been in your family for generations, you must designate the next person in your family who will serve in this role. You can only do so by writing it down in a legal document.
What Your Auburn, Indiana Will’s, Trusts, and Estate Attorney Will Do
An Auburn Indiana attorney can help you draw up a detailed and sound estate plan. Your lawyer will walk you through the documents that you will need to create in order to avoid confusion in your family after you pass away. They will ensure that all the documents that are drawn up and signed pass legal scrutiny.