It’s all about the power of choice. Communicating your choices, wishes and desires to your family and friends, while you are still living, will alleviate problems after your death. You have worked hard to accumulate certain assets and you should communicate how those assets will be distributed. By creating a Will and an estate plan, you can choose how the world will deal with your estate. If you don’t create a Will, the law has established certain ways of dividing your estate, which may or may not be consistent with your choices, wishes and desires. The following items should be reviewed and considered when preparing and reviewing an estate plan:
Estate Management: Who will monitor and administer my estate? Who will serve as my personal representative? Who will distribute my assets and pay my debts?
Asset Distribution: How will my assets be distributed? Who will receive my assets? How should my real estate be divided? Who gets my classic automobile? How will my stock be divided?
Debt: What creditors are owed? How will these debts affect my estate and my family?
Trusts: Should I create a trust? Who will serve as the trustee? Who should I name as beneficiaries? What are my goals in establishing the trust?
Children: Who will care for my children? Who do I trust to serve as a guardian? What qualifications should the guardian have?
Taxes: Will I owe estate taxes? How can I lower my tax burden before I die?
Powers of Attorney/Medical Directives: Do I need to have someone make financial and medical decision on my behalf? Who should serve in this capacity? Who can I trust to make important medical and financial decisions?
Preparing a Will and an estate plan will allow you to think through all of the relevant issues, in a slow and methodical manner. If you wait wait until there is a crisis, a health scare, or some other type of adverse event, you may overlook important aspects of your estate which may be critical to your family. Even if you currently have a Will or an estate plan, a change in family circumstances, a change in the law, or the passage of time may require you to update your choices, wishes and desires. Allowing legal counsel to review your current estate plan is always a prudent decision.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice. Specific questions and circumstances regarding the issues addressed in this article should be individually discussed with legal counsel.
Adams, Lynch & Loftin, P.C.