Do You Need Estate Planning Services?
You may think that estate planning is essential only for older, wealthy individuals. In reality, if you have any family or other loved ones who depend on you, estate planning is essential — regardless of your wealth — to care for them when you are no longer able to do so.
Estate planning is about more than just estate taxes. Your plans should also include guidelines and decisions that you make now about what will happen to you if you can not make financial and medical decisions for yourself in the future and what will happen to your loved ones if you pass away.
Without substantial assets, you may not care about estate taxes now. But as your financial success increases, you and your family will care a great deal about them in the future. Planning now prevents unwelcome financial burdens on your family should you die before making the arrangements to protect your survivors.
It’s better to plan without need than to have your family endure the financial and emotional stress resulting from your failure to properly plan. Estate planning isn’t for you… it’s for them.
In many families it is uncomfortable, even extremely difficult, to discuss money — especially in relation to the death of a family member. Open, honest communication with your parents (or children) is essential and will help prepare everyone in the case of the unexpected or the inevitable. Make sure key family members know where important documents are stored and that they are made aware of your wishes in relation to medical treatments and/or your living will stipulations.
Guardianship of Surviving Children
Your will not only dictates how your assets are to distributed, it can (and should) be used to designate legal guardians for your underage or special-needs dependents. If you do not specify this in your will, the courts will make these decisions for you. Your will should also name an executor (the person you want to oversee the estate until all assets are distributed). Choose someone who fully understands your wishes and is willing and capable of carrying them out.
Durable Power of Attorney for Finances
This document enables another person to handle your finances and your investments if you become unable to make decisions. Without this power of attorney, your survivors may be required to go to court each time they need to handle routine transactions on your behalf. Select a knowledgeable, financially capable individual such as an adult child, a family member, or a trusted friend. If you do not wish to ask one of these individuals to serve in this capacity, or should they be unwilling to do so, consider using your attorney or your accountant.
Living Wills, Medical Directives and Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions
These documents are invoked if you are unable to make health care decisions for yourself. A durable power of attorney for health care gives another person the ability and responsibility to make medical decisions for you. Your living will instructs health care providers and your family as to your wishes for treatments should you become terminally ill or unable to make decisions (like whether or not to resuscitate you). It also states your wishes about being placed on life support.
Retirement Account Beneficiaries
Carefully choose the beneficiary of your retirement plans and IRAs. The person receiving your retirement plan assets is usually determined by the beneficiary form you sign — not your will. Update these forms, should your situation change.
Experienced Estate Planning in Boyle County and Central Kentucky
George M. McClure, III and Brian D. Bailey has the experience you need to plan your estate and to navigate probate. Estate laws are complex and the consequences of being unprepared are significant. While you may want to do some investigation on your own, use a qualified estate planning attorney to ensure you preserve the proceeds of your estate to serve those you leave behind, instead of leaving them to overpay estate taxes.
If you still have questions, call us. We have the experience to help you plan.