There is much more to the process of estate planning than the simple creation of a last will. It is important to understand all the facts so you can make the right decisions. In fact, in most cases, a last will is not be the best choice. And even if you do use a will, there are other documents that should be included in your broader estate plan.
Before we provide an overview, we should touch upon the subject of do-it-yourself legal document websites that offer generic, boilerplate templates and downloads that can be used to create last wills. Is DIY estate planning effective?
The good folks at Consumer Reports decided to answer this question for their readers a number of years ago. They dispatched three staffers to use tools that are offered by a trio of popular legal document websites to create last wills using hypothetical personas. Three highly esteemed legal professors were engaged to examine the last wills were created using these DIY worksheets.
They all stated that there were flaws in the documents, and they felt that unintended consequences could come about when these templates are used by laypeople. After digesting what the legal scholars had to say, Consumer Reports concluded that do-it-yourself estate planning is not a good idea unless your estate situation is extremely simple.
Last Will Alternatives
Many people do not understand the fact that a last will must be admitted to probate after the death of the testator. This is a legal process that is time-consuming and costly, and anyone that is interested can access probate records to find out how the assets were distributed.
Another negative is the fact that you allow for lump sum inheritances when you state your final wishes in a last will. This can be inconsistent with your true desires if you would like to make sure that inheritors have resources to draw from for an extended period of time.
A popular alternative to a last will is a revocable living trust. You do not have to worry about losing control of the assets that you sign over to this type of trust, because you can revoke it at any time. It would no longer exist, and you would once again become the direct owner of the assets.
While you are living, you can act as the trustee, which is the trust administrator, and you can also be the initial beneficiary. In the trust declaration, you name a successor trustee to take over the role after your passing, and your heirs would be the successor beneficiaries.
On the subject of distributions, you have the ability to instruct the trustee to distribute limited assets over an extended period of time. Plus, these distributions would not be subject to the probate process and all of the drawbacks that go along with it.
A revocable living trust is the right choice for a wide range of different people, but there are other types of trusts that can satisfy specific goals. The ideal choice will depend upon the circumstances, and this is why personalized attention is very important. This is exactly what you will receive if you work with our firm.
A well-constructed estate plan will address end-of-life issues. It is certainly not the most pleasant thing to consider, but you may become unable to communicate sound decisions at some point in time. If you do not prepare this eventuality in advance, the state could be petitioned to appoint a guardian to act on your behalf.
To select your own decision-makers, you can execute documents called durable powers of attorney. The durable designation is relevant, because a standard power of attorney that is not durable would no longer be in effect upon you the incapacitation of the grantor.
For medical decision-making, you can execute a durable power of attorney for health care, and you can add a durable financial power of attorney to name someone to manage your financial affairs. A living will can be included as well to state your preferences with regard to the utilization of life-sustaining measures.
Schedule a Consultation Today!
If you do not have an estate plan in place, or if your existing plan was created many years ago, now is the time for action. We would be more than glad to gain an understanding of your legacy goals and help you craft a plan that provides for your loved ones in the optimal manner. To request a consultation appointment, send us a message or call us at 513-721-1513.