Everyone has an estate plan, the one you create with your choices or the one the courts provide where they make the decisions.
An estate plan is a series of documents that give your wishes control of your life, family and assets. Without an estate plan, the courts will get involved and make decision for you, often costing your estate money. Let’s consider decisions you might want to make yourself.
First are issues where you are still alive but incapacitated. You may get into a car accident or have a health issue which either temporarily or permanently takes away your ability to competently communicate your own decisions. In these scenarios, without a proper estate plan, only a court can appoint a signee to access medical records for your treatment, to access health insurance policy information and benefits, to access bank account information to pay bills. Decision on whether you live or die will follow this same court appointed scenario. Many families have been torn apart as they debate among themselves the right things to do in such situations. Who do you want in control of such decisions?
Second would be decision made after your death. Again, without your wishes made known with a proper estate plan, the courts will decide who will receive your assets. Not only will the distribution of your assets be decided by the court but they will keep part of your estate to cover their costs known as Probate costs. This can be a percentage of your estate or a fixed amount which varies by state. In either scenario you will most likely loose thousands of dollars to the state in this process.
Some people have taken the time to write up a will. A will is only one part of a properly structured estate plan, and while you will have some control of how your assets will be distributed, you will still pay the courts probate costs to execute the will.
With a properly structured estate plan a living trust will be added to the will, with this document your heirs can avoid having to pay probate costs. Your heirs will receive the money as opposed to the state.
For people with minor children, one of the most, if not the most important part of the estate plan is the directive of where their children will go if the parents decease. This is a decision every parent wants to make themselves and not have the court decide. Well-meaning families have been torn apart vying to take care of minors left behind. Ensure your children are not placed in limbo and at the discretion of the court.
Ensure that you take control of your life, assets and family. Guardian Law can help walk you through this process and create your own properly structured estate plan.
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