Estate planning can seem like an overwhelming task. You want to make sure you do everything right and this can lead to procrastination if you don’t know where to begin.
While there are different approaches, the basic framework is the same for everyone and it boils down to four essential elements.
You should use an asset transfer vehicle when you plan your estate. Many assume a simple will is the right choice, but this is not optimal 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 take place without probate. You are the trustee while you are living, so there is no loss of control of the assets.
Another advantage of a trust over a will is the ability to provide spendthrift protection. The trust becomes irrevocable after you pass and the assets are protected from beneficiaries’ creditors.
You can instruct the trustee to distribute assets over time to prevent reckless spending.
This is just one type of trust you can use. As a layperson, you cannot be expected to know all your options, which is why legal assistance is invaluable.
In addition to the financial part of the equation, you should prepare for end-of-life eventualities. Doctors can keep people alive indefinitely through artificial life-sustaining measures, even if there is no hope of recovery. Do you want to be kept alive under these circumstances? You can answer this question in a living will and make decisions about organ and tissue donation and comfort care medication.
Durable Powers of Attorney
Medical situations can arise that are not related to life-support addressed in your living will. For these, you name a decision-maker in a durable power of attorney for health care.
You can also execute a durable power of attorney for property that names someone to manage your financial affairs. You will also name a disability trustee in your living trust to act if you become incapacitated.
This acronym stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, passed in 1996 to protect patient privacy. It prevents doctors from communicating medical information with anyone other than the patient. 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 you can give others access to the information if you choose to do so.
Attend a Free Webinar!
Oklahoma City estate planning attorneys will be conducting a number of webinars over the coming weeks. These events will cover the most important topics, so if you participate you will come away with a great deal of information.
There is no charge to attend our webinars, but we ask that you register in advance so we can reserve your spot. You will see the dates and obtain more information if you go to our webinar page.
Need Help Now?
If you already know 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, or you can use our contact form if you would rather send us a message.