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Why You Need an Estate Plan
It’s an Act of Love. Creating an estate plan in an expression of love and support for your spouse, children and other family members. The death or disability of a family member can be extremely stressful and can create unnecessary conflict among family members. An estate plan provides your family with clear instructions they can follow and leads them through a difficult emotional process.
Asset Protection and Tax Planning. After years of working, you want your money and resources to go to your chosen beneficiaries and not to the government or a predator. Having an estate plan will protect your spouse, if he or she remarries after your death. It can protect the assets that you leave to your children and ensure they receive an education or that the money is used for a good purpose and is not subject to creditors. It can also minimize taxes and expenses in transferring property to your loved ones.
You Stay in Control. You want to choose who has the power to manage your finances and health. If you do not have an advanced health care directive and financial power of attorney, your family may have to go through the cumbersome and expensive process of getting a court order if you become incapacitated. You want to choose who has power over your money and your health. You also want to choose who will be in charge of your estate when you pass away. If you do not have an estate plan, there will be expense, delay and court intervention in your affairs.
Emotional Strain and Delay. Without an estate plan, your family may not have immediate access to the money they need. A grieving family that is already under stress should not also have to worry about having enough money to pay the bills. Having a plan in place will ensure that your loved ones have the immediate support they need. Planning will also help to reduce expenses and taxes.
It’s Critical for Minor Children. No one likes to think about the possibility of passing away before their children reach adulthood. But, it is important to have a plan for your children’s care in the event you are unable to care for them. In that situation, a court will appoint a guardian to have custody of your minor children to ensure their proper care. You can only appoint the person or persons that you wish to serve as guardian for your children in your will. If you do not have a will, there may be conflict over who will take care of your children and a court will decide. Every parent of minor children should have a Will and a plan in place to provide for their care.
Four Easy Steps
to Create your Plan
Step 1. We will schedule a FREE 20-minute consultation to evaluate your needs. This can be done over the phone or in person at our Roswell office. During the consultation, we will discuss your estate planning goals and how we can work together to achieve your goals.
Step 2. After the initial consultation, we will schedule a longer meeting to review your situation in greater detail and discuss your options. The goal of this meeting is to understand your goals and help you to choose the best plan to meet your goals. This meeting usually lasts 90 minutes. After this meeting, we will draft your estate plan for your review.
Step 3. You will review your estate planning documents and provide any changes or corrections.
Step 4. We will meet to execute your documents. This meeting usually takes about an hour. Please remember that due to scheduling we are not able to make any same-day revisions to your documents. When we meet to execute your documents, we will provide you with detailed instructions for how to coordinate your assets to achieve your estate planning goals.
What an Estate Plan Includes:
Every estate plan that we create includes a will, a power of attorney, and a health care directive.
In most cases an estate plan will also include a trust. These are explained below.
What is a Will?
A Will is a formal legal document that names an executor or an administrator to manage your estate; it describes who is to receive your assets and belongings, and in some cases who should be the guardian of your minor children or other dependent family members. A Will must be probated by the court. Probate is a court supervised process whereby it is established that the Will is the final expression of your wishes. Your executor is charged with locating and establishing a value for all of your assets, paying your creditors and taxes (if applicable), and distributing your assets to your beneficiaries. Probate is commonly viewed as an expensive and time consuming process. However, with proper planning the costs and burdens on your family and beneficiaries can be minimized.
What is a Trust?
A Trust is a legal arrangement whereby one party (the Trustee) manages property for another party (The Beneficiary). There are many kinds of Trusts. A living Trust is established during your lifetime and is a tool to avoid probate, maintain privacy, and in some cases reduce taxes. The Trust document is a legal document that names a Trustee and any successor Trustees to manage the property held in the Trust. The Trust document is a written expression of your wishes for your assets during your lifetime, should you become incapacitated, and after your death. Because the Property held in the Trust is titled in the name of the Trust it does not pass through your estate and does not need to be probated. A living Trust is an excellent estate planning tool. At Susan Floyd Law, we will explain all of your choices and help you decide the best option for your needs.
What is an Advanced Health Care Directive?
An Advanced Health Care Directive names an agent to act on your behalf to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to express your wishes, it describes your medical treatment preferences, it names a guardian for you should a guardian be necessary, and it plans for other important issues related to your health. At Susan Floyd Law, we will provide everything you need for a valid and enforceable health care directive.
What is a Power of Attorney?
A power of attorney is a legal document that authorizes another person to act on your behalf concerning your financial affairs. The attorney-in-fact acts as your agent and has a fiduciary duty to act honestly and with loyalty to your interests. Choosing an agent is an important consideration because that person will have broad authority over your assets. It is important to have an attorney draft a power of attorney rather than “do it yourself” from a form document purchased online, because if the document has errors, a court may need to intervene. A power of attorney is only effective while you are alive. Once a person has passed away, the attorney-in-fact or agent, no longer has authority to act on your behalf. For this reason, it is important to have both a will and/or trust in addition to a power of attorney.
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