Some people that have not looked into the subject very deeply assume that the process of estate planning equates to nothing more or less than the creation of a simple will. This is the most commonly used estate planning document, but there are many other legal devices that can be part of an estate plan. In fact, a last will is really not the best choice in many instances.
Plus, it is important to understand the fact that there are different types of wills. If you use a will as your primary vehicle of asset transfer, you should actually add at least one other type of will to your estate plan. In this post, we will take a look at some wills that fly under the radar.
When you plan your estate, you address important matters that will be resolved after you are gone. This being stated, a well-constructed estate plan will also address end-of-life eventualities.
Advance directives for health care should be included in your estate plan, and one of them is a living will. In some cases, doctors can keep people alive indefinitely using artificial means even when there is no hope of recovery. Techniques include total parenteral nutrition, mechanical ventilation, defibrillation, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
In a living will, you express your wishes regarding the utilization of these life-sustaining measures. If you have this document in place, health care professionals would be compelled to honor your choices if you are ever in this condition. Your own true wishes would be carried out, and you would take this very difficult decision out of the hands of your loved ones.
Since we are on the subject of advance directives for health care, we should explain the other one that should be a part of your incapacity plan. There can be medical decisions that must be made that are not related to the use of life sustaining methods. You can add a health care proxy to name someone to make these decisions on your behalf if you are unable to make them yourself.
As we stated in the opening, a last will is not the best option for many people. There are limitations and drawbacks that enter the picture when you use a last will. A revocable living trust is a better choice for a wide range of individuals for a number of different reasons.
One benefit that is gained through the use of a living trust is the avoidance of probate. When a will is used, the executor that is named in the document must admit it to probate. This is a costly and time-consuming legal process. The heirs cannot receive their inheritances until the estate has been probated, and it will typically take somewhere in the vicinity of a year.
If you use a living trust instead of a last will, the trustee would be empowered to distribute assets to the beneficiaries outside of probate. This is one benefit, but there are a number of others. We will examine them closely in a future post.
When you establish a living trust, you may have some property that is still in your personal possession that was never conveyed into the trust for one reason or another. To account for this, you can execute a pour-over will. This would allow the trust to absorb assets that were in your direct possession at the time of your death.
Ethical wills have been used since biblical times, and they stem from the Judaic tradition. They were used to share moral and spiritual values with loved ones as a parting gift from the heart.
These days, experts espouse the cathartic value of ethical wills, and they emphasize the fact that there are no rules. You simply share information that you would like to convey to the family members, and the details are up to you.
Attend a Free Estate Planning Seminar!
We go the extra mile to provide educational opportunities to members of our community. There are many resources on this website, and we urge you to explore and take advantage of the written materials and interactive tools.
In addition to these resources, we conduct webinars on an ongoing basis. You can learn a lot if you join us, there is no charge, and you get a one-hour free consultation if you participate.
The dates are posted on our Cincinnati estate planning webinar page, and if you decide to attend, follow the instructions to register.