Understanding Estate Plans
An elder law lawyer understands that there are many people who don’t think they need to worry about estate planning, either because they are not wealthy or they are not senior citizens. The reality is that every adult, no matter what their age or their financial situation, should have some type of estate planning arrangement in place.
What Is an Estate Plan?
Some of the documents that can be included in your estate plan are a will, a living trust, and a living will. A will is a legal document that states what a person’s last wishes are. In your will, you will need to name an executor who will oversee the carrying out of those wishes. It will also state how your assets and property should be divided, as well as how your debts should be paid. If you have minor children, you can also designate who you want to be named as their legal guardian.
A living trust also expresses specifically what your wishes are with your assets and property just like a will does; however, a living trust bypasses the time-consuming and expensive probate process. Wills must be filed with the court, allowing for anyone to contest the terms of the will and for any creditors to file any claims against the estate. This process typically takes approximately one year but can take up to three years to settle an estate.
And if someone who you specifically left out of your will because you did not want them to have any of your assets contests the will, there is no guarantee that the court will not rule in their favor. By avoiding probate, a living trust allows your wishes to be carried out immediately following your death and carried out exactly how you want.
A living trust can also protect you from any unforeseen address your financial, medical, and legal issues should you become ill or incapacitated.
A living will, despite its name, does not address your property or assets, but instead is a directive to inform medical personnel what your wishes for your end-of-life care should be in the event you are unable to communicate those wishes.
Your estate plan can also specify the specifics of other issues, such as who will take care of your pets and what your wishes for your funeral and burial plans are.
Contact an Estate Planning Law Firm Today
When a person dies without an estate plan, it can add even more difficult for their family and can even lead to long-drawn-out legal battles between family members fighting over the estate.