This is an article from the Law Office of Michael Robinson, P.A. (http://www.mrobinsonlaw.com/) in Naples, New York, that we thought others may find helpful.
The ideal estate plan will vary depending on the circumstances, and there is no one-size-fits-all plan because every family is unique. However, there is a basic framework that would be applicable in most cases, and we will take a look at the basics in this blog post.
When you plan your estate, you state your final wishes regarding the distribution of your monetary assets. This can be done in a number of different ways. Many people use a last will as a vehicle of asset transfer, and this can be an adequate choice if you have a very simple and straightforward situation.
However, a will must be admitted to probate after the passing of the decedent. This is a legal process, and it takes place under the supervision of a court. The process is time-consuming, and the heirs to the estate must wait out the probate process before they can get their inheritances.
A revocable living trust would be another option, and you can use this type of trust even if you are not very wealthy. The trustee that you name in the document would distribute assets to the beneficiaries in accordance with your wishes after your passing. These distributions would not be subject to the time-consuming process of probate.
These are just two options, but there are other more advanced asset transfer vehicles that can be used to satisfy various different objectives.
Preparing for Incapacity
A well constructed estate plan will also include an incapacity planning component. Many seniors become unable to communicate sound decisions on their own late in their lives, and this can be due to severe physical ailments prior to death.
Mental incapacitation is another thing to prepare for in advance. Some 45 percent of people who are at least 85 are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, and this disease is not the only cause of incapacitation. If you execute a durable power of attorney, you can empower a hand-picked decision-maker to handle your financial affairs in the event of your incapacitation.
We should point out the fact that you could empower a disability trustee to manage the assets that you have in your trust if you create a revocable living trust.
To name someone to make medical decisions on your behalf, you can add a health care proxy. With another document called a living will, you can state your preference regarding the utilization of life-sustaining measures.