Estate planning can seem like an overwhelming task if you want to make sure you do everything right, and this can lead to procrastination when you don’t know where to begin.
While there are different approaches that can be taken, there is a basic framework that is the same for everyone, and it boils down to four essential elements.
You have to utilize an asset transfer vehicle when you plan your estate. Many people assume that a simple will is the right choice, but this is not the case unless the situation is very straightforward.
A will would be admitted to probate, which is a costly, time-consuming process. Another drawback is the loss of privacy, because probate is a public proceeding, and the records are available to anyone who is interested.
If you use a living trust as the centerpiece of your estate plan, the distributions would take place outside of probate. You would act as the trustee while you are living, so there would be no loss of control of the assets.
Another advantage over a will is the ability to provide spendthrift protections. The trust would become irrevocable after you are gone, and the assets would be protected from the beneficiaries’ creditors.
You could instruct the trustee to distribute limited assets on an incremental basis over time to prevent reckless spending.
This is just one of many different types of trusts that can be used. As a layperson, there is no reason why you would be apprised of your options, and this is why legal assistance is invaluable.
In addition to the financial part of the equation, you should prepare for end-of-life eventualities when you plan your estate. Sometimes doctors can keep people alive indefinitely through the use of artificial life-sustaining measures, even if there is no hope of recovery.
Would you want to be kept alive under these circumstances? You can answer this question in a living will, and you can add organ and tissue donation and comfort care medication choices.
Durable Powers of Attorney
Medical situations can arise that are not related to the life-support matters that you addressed in your living will. To account for this, you can name a decision-maker in a durable power of attorney for health care.
You can also execute a durable power of attorney for property to name someone to manage your financial affairs. It should be noted that you can name a disability trustee if you have a living trust, and this individual or entity would assume the role in the event of your incapacity.
The acronym above stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. This measure was passed in 1996 to protect patient privacy, and it prevents doctors from communicating medical information with anyone other than the patient.
In order for your health care agent to obtain the information they will need to make informed decisions on your behalf, you should include a HIPAA release. And of course, you could give others access to the information if you choose to do so.
Attend a Free Webinar!
Oklahoma City estate planning attorney Larry Parman is going to be conducting a number of webinars over the coming weeks. These events will cover all the most important topics, so you can come away with a great deal of information if you participate.
There is no charge to attend our webinars, but we ask that you register in advance so we can reserve your spot. You can see the dates and obtain more information if you head over to our webinar page.
Need Help Now?
If you already know that it is time for you to work with an attorney to put an estate plan in place, we are here to help. You can schedule a consultation appointment right now if you call us at 405-843-6100, and you can use our contact form if you would rather send us a message.