Estate Planning is the preparation of documents in anticipation and arrangement of an estate for the division of assets as well as the management of property and proper decision-making for healthcare prior to death. Preparation of an estate plan typically includes a Trust, Last Will and Testament, Durable Power of Attorney, Patient Advocate Agreement and a Deed transferring real estate into a trust.
Last Will and Testament
A Last Will & Testament is the legal document by which a person, the testator, names a person (or persons) to manage the testator’s estate and provides for the transfer of property at the testator’s death.
A trust is a document and primary method, of transferring ownership of property after death without the involvement of the Probate Court. Typically, a trust is established by an individual during his/her lifetime by execution of a written trust agreement. The person who establishes the trust selects a person or persons to distribute the property named in the Trust in accordance with the trust instructions. The creation of a trust helps to minimize or avoid estate taxes which are imposed at the time of death which helps to maximize the wealth of the distribution.
Powers of Attorney
Powers of Attorney allow a person or persons to act on behalf of the person who established the document during their lifetime should they lose the ability to make decisions for themselves (incompetence) prior to death. Creating Powers of Attorney will help avoid going to probate court to appoint a conservator in the event that the person who established the trust becomes legally incompetent prior to death. The person appointed as Power of Attorney is generally given broad powers to deal with the financial affairs of the person who established the document.
Patient Advocate Appointment
The Patient Advocate Appointment establishes a person or persons to make health care decisions for the person who established the document in the event the he/she becomes unable to make those decisions prior to death. The Patient Advocate Appointment contains medical directives which contain the wishes of the person who established the document concerning his/her terminal health care.