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estate planning

Where There's a Will, There's Veitengruber Law

On Behalf of Veitengruber Law | Jan 10,2013

Photo courtesy of Elvert Barnes As important as it is to love and cherish your friends and family members during your lifetime, it is also essential that you consider how their lives will be impacted if and when you happen to pass away before they do. Estate planning is a fancy way of saying that you are preparing for the division of your assets or property at the time of your death. Estate planning involves creating several documents in order to transfer your assets seamlessly to your heirs upon your death.  These documents will also make arrangements for guardianship of your children (if applicable) and someone to make decisions for you should you become disabled:
  1. Last Will and Testament  - A Last Will and Testament (otherwise known simply as a will), is the document that is used to transfer your real property and assets to your beneficiaries. This document will also name guardians for any of your unemancipated minor children. A Last Will and Testament becomes effective only after your death and after it has been probated by your state's court system. Probate courts oversee the transfer of your estate in order to ensure that your will is authentic. Once it is shown to be genuine, the probate system ensures that everything will be distributed according to your state's rules.
  2. A Trust is a document that is created and becomes effective while you are still living. A revocable trust means that you will be able to make changes to the trust throughout your lifetime, including terminating it completely. An irrevocable trust is very difficult to make changes to, however it does provide some tax benefits. A trust can be a good alternative to a Last Will and Testament because your friends and loved ones won't have to deal with probate, which will save them money and time.
  3. Living Wills (a/k/a Advance Health Care Directives) give specific directions to those who might take life-sustaining measures if you happen to contract a fatal illness. A living will communicates your wishes, but won't allow someone else to speak on your behalf.
  4. Durable Power Of Attorney - In this document, you will name the person who will be handling all of the arrangements surrounding your financial affairs. The person who is named as your Durable Power of Attorney will also manage the distribution of your assets after the time of your death.
  5. Health Care Power Of Attorney (a/k/a Health Care Proxy) - In the unfortunate event that you become diagnosed with a terminal illness or sustain a serious, life-threatening injury, there may be decisions regarding your medical care that simply weren't addressed in your Living Will. This document's purpose is to name the person who will make those decisions for you if you become unable to make those decisions for yourself. Because this person may ultimately end up making some momentous decisions at a time when you can't - choosing someone with a clear understanding of your health care wishes is imperative.
While creating these documents is of the utmost importance for everyone, the process itself is not difficult.  Although it can be uncomfortable to ponder one's own demise, you will feel relief when your estate planning process is complete.  Knowing that your loved ones will be taken care of and that there will be no unnecessary arguments over your wishes is something that we are proud to offer you. Simply call Veitengruber Law today to set up your free Estate Planning consultation appointment.


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