As most people understand, estate planning involves prearranging, during an individual’s lifetime, for the disposition of one’s assets and property upon death. However, an experienced Sugarland estate attorney will also tell you that a comprehensive estate plan also includes provisions for healthcare and measures to manage one’s finances upon temporary incapacitation.
Although each estate plan should be crafted individually for the specific person’s circumstances, the following components should be considered for all:
1. Will. A will is a document that allows you (as the “testator”) to name the heirs you wish to receive your real and personal property upon your death. Within your will, you may also name who will care for your minor children (if any), who will settle your estates upon your passing (the “executor”), and the manner in which you wish to be laid to rest (such as funeral arrangements, cremation, etc.). Probate is an issue when property is passed via a will.
2. Trust. A trust may be either revocable or irrevocable. In either case, you as the “trustor” create the trust. Typically, the trustor than acts as the “trustee” during his or her lifetime, and a successor trustee is named to fulfill the terms of the trust upon the trustor’s passing. Probate may be avoided, as there is no transfer of title required for any asset within the trust. The trust “owns” the property. The trustor as the original trustee, and then the successor trustee, merely manages the assets as per the trust terms.
3. Advance Health Care Directive. An advance health care directive allows an individual to arrange for the type of health care options to be administered to that person, should he or she become incapacitated. You may name an individual to make the decisions you cannot make for yourself and leave specific instructions to your doctors as to the nature of the treatments you wish to receive or refuse to receive.
4. Power of Attorney. A power of attorney allows another to act on your behalf in financial matters if you become incapacitated. Powers of attorney may be very specific or general in nature and are in effect only as long as your are incapacitated.
5. Non-Probate Estate Transfers. Certain assets are transferred immediately upon the death of an individual by operation of law. Examples include life insurance proceeds, assets held in joint tenancy with the right of survivorship, and assets held in accounts with a pay on death (“POD”) beneficiary.
A consultation with a Sugarland estate attorney can provide you with the best information to ensure your wishes are fulfilled in the best and most economical manner possible. For a free initial consultation with experienced Sugarland estate attorney, simply fill out the form on this page.