There are those that adopt the do-it-yourself perspective when it comes to estate planning, and there are a number of reasons why this is not a good idea. Consumer Reports studied the subject a few years ago, and with the help of three prominent legal professors, they came to the conclusion that DIY estate planning is risky business.
As a layperson, you are not going to know about all the estate planning documents that are available to you. When you understand the facts, you may be quite surprised. In this post, we will look at some estate planning documents that share the same name while serving different purposes.
Everyone has heard of the last will or last will and testament, and it is the estate planning document that is most commonly used. In a last will, you state your final wishes regarding the distribution of your assets after you are gone.
It can seem as though this is the simplest solution, but a will must be admitted to probate. This is a costly and time-consuming legal process that takes place under the supervision of a court. Probate records are available to the general public, so there is a loss of privacy, and this is another drawback.
You could go in another direction and use a revocable living trust as your primary vehicle of asset transfer. In the trust declaration, you would name a trustee to act as the administrator. When the time comes, the trustee would distribute assets to the beneficiaries outside of probate.
Pour Over Will
One of the reasons why we briefly touched upon the value of living trusts is to be able to smoothly segue into an explanation of our next will. If you were to convey assets into a living trust, you may still have some property in your personal possession at the time of your passing.
To address this, when you create your overall estate plan, you could include a pour over will. This type of will would allow these assets to “pour over” into the trust after you are gone, and this would make the trust administration process much more efficient.
In some cases, medical professionals can keep people alive through the utilization of life-sustaining measures like artificial hydration and nutrition, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and mechanical ventilation. This can be true even if there is no hope of recovery.
You can be prepared for this eventuality if you include a living will in your plan. With this document, you state your wishes regarding the utilization of artificial life-support measures.
A living will is an advance directive for health care, and while we are on the subject, we should touch upon another directive that should be added. With a durable power of attorney for health care, you can name an agent to make medical decisions on your behalf. These would be decisions that don’t involve life-support usage.
Ethical wills date back to biblical times, and they stem from the Judaic tradition. In an ethical will, you record your moral and spiritual values so that your loved ones will be able to access your rules to live by after you are gone. This is not a legally binding document, but in spite of this, it can be one of the most meaningful parts to your estate plan.
Attend a Free Estate Planning Seminar!
You are in luck if you would like to obtain more information about estate planning in a very comfortable learning environment. Our attorneys are holding a series of seminars over the coming weeks, and we are very excited about the material that we will be delivering this time around.
There is no admission charge, so you should really carve out some time to attend one of these sessions. To get all the details, visit our seminar page and click on the date that works for you.