Estate Planning involves making decisions and giving instructions–contained within legal documents–concerning your medical treatment, your assets, and your family. These instructions are executed after your death or in the event that you become incapacitated. The primary estate planning documents include wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and health care directives.
ESTATE PLANNING IS FOR EVERYONE
You may be thinking “Well, I’d hardly call what I have an estate,” but estate planning is important for everyone. Although it may sound like a service that only wealthy people need, at Bainum Law, we believe everyone should have a plan. If you have minor children, own any vehicles or property, or have any assets in the bank or in a retirement account, then estate planning is important.
In the event that an individual dies without planning in place, the courts will make crucial decisions such as who will have custody of any minor children, who will be beneficiaries of any assets, and how the assets will be divided. The fighting and discord that can follow can have a harmful effect on families and individuals, resulting in bad feelings mixed with the grief of a sudden, tragic loss. We cannot emphasize enough the importance of estate planning early on.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF ESTATE PLANNING
At Bainum Law, our main goal is to provide exceptional legal services to the individuals and families in our local community. We can create a variety of estate planning documents that can be useful together as a total estate plan or can be very valuable on their own.
A will is a set of instructions that appoints an executor (who executes the will), beneficiaries (who benefit from the estate), and guardianship over any minor children. A will is a very important document for parents of children who are under 18.
A trust is an independent financial entity. Your assets, including property, can be transferred over to a trust during your lifetime,
helping to shield your estate from probate after death. There are many different types of trusts available.
POWERS OF ATTORNEY
Power of attorney allows you to designate an agent who can act on your behalf. In the event that you are incapacitated or unavailable, your agent (or agents) can take care of your medical, financial, and property affairs. Powers can be very broad or very specific.
HEALTH CARE DIRECTIVES
A health care directive, or advance directive, provides instructions for your desired medical care in the event of incapacitation. Advance directives also appoint an agent to make decisions on your behalf, in accordance with your instructions found within the healthcare directive itself.
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