An estate plan deals with what happens to your family and your property after your death, but they can be more detailed. They can also plan for sudden incapacitation, such as that from an illness or an accident. Estate plans are not single documents, but entire collections of paperwork that cover multiple circumstances.
Planning Your Estate Begins with a Will
The most well-known part of estate planning is the will. A last will and testament allows you to decide who gets your belongings after your death, and it can also be used to name a guardian for minor children. Those writing wills can choose an executor, or person responsible for handling your affairs as your estate makes its way through probate. A last will is not legally binding until death; therefore, most estate planning is more detailed.
Creating a Trust
An estate plan can include a trust. When a trust is created, ownership of property and assets is transferred. Upon death, the appointed trustee distributes assets according to your wishes, just as an executor does with a will. The primary difference between trusts and wills is that a trust’s assets do not go through probate. Many people choose to include both trusts and wills as part of an estate plan.
Power of Attorney
Your estate plan can also address what you wish to happen in the event of your incapacitation. Most trusts designate a successor, who manages the trust if the original trustee cannot. A will cannot do this, because it is not binding until death.
Advance Health Care Directives
A power of attorney can address both health care and financial decisions in the event of your incapacitation, and you can add a ‘living will’ to your estate planning documents. Living wills state whether or not you want artificial life support if you are ill and have no chance of recovery. A power of attorney or health care proxy allows someone of your choosing to make decisions on your behalf.
Estate Lawyers can Help
Estate planning laws are complex, and every case has different facts. The information provided in this article is brief and general in nature, and not intended to replace an attorney’s advice. For detailed information specific to your case, contact the estate attorney near Cicero at Koch & Associates P.C. Attorneys At Law.