Estate Planning Quick Guide
Do I need an estate plan?
Everyone should have at least a basic estate plan in place to ensure that your affairs are managed and your assets distributed according to your wishes and with minimal complications.
What are the essential documents for a basic estate plan?
Will: Directs the disposition of your assets upon your death and appoints an Executor to administer your estate. If you have minor children, nominates a guardian to care for your children if both parents are incapacitated or deceased.
Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA): Designates an Agent to manage your legal, financial, and personal affairs.
Health Care Power of Attorney (HCPOA): Designates a Health Care Agent to make medical decisions on your behalf.
Advance Directive for a Natural Death, or Living Will (LW): Indicates desires regarding withholding or withdrawing life-prolonging measures in end-of-life situations.
HIPPA Authorization: Authorizes named individuals to request and receive protected healthcare information.
What is probate, and how may it be avoided?
Probate is the process of administering a deceased individual’s estate with court supervision. Probate may be required whenever an individual held assets in his or her name at death. Assets that are held in the name of a Revocable Living Trust (RLT), jointly held with right of survivorship, or payable by beneficiary designation generally do not require probate.
Probate typically involves increased complexity, time, and fees, and it results in your estate information becoming public record. Placing assets into a Revocable Living Trust during your lifetime may mitigate this.
What is a Revocable Living Trust?
A Revocable Living Trust is an estate planning tool in which you (the “grantor”) transfer property to yourself or another person (the “trustee”) to be held for your benefit during your lifetime. The trust document specifies how your assets should be distributed upon your death and who will administer your trust. An RLT may be amended or revoked by your during your lifetime.
Assets that are held in an RLT at your death are not subject to probate. A properly funded RLT can help to simplify the management of your affairs during your lifetime and upon your death by:
- Providing for uninterrupted management of your assets if you become incapacitated.
- Mitigating or eliminating the need for probate.
- Increasing privacy regarding the details of your estate and your beneficiaries.
- Reducing fees associated with administering your estate.