A Well Crafted Estate Plan is an important consideration for everyone. While considering one's death and dying or incapacity is unpleasant, a Well Crafted Estate Plan can give you peace of mind that your loved ones will have clear directions regarding your property and assets and can give you the needed assurances that your property and assets may be managed or distributed in accordance with your wishes.
At Petit & Dommershausen, SC, we can assist you and your loved ones in creating a Well Crafted Estate Plan. As a courtesy, we have outlined the following important considerations as you review your estate planning options. You should be aware that the below considerations are outlined in a general sense and they may not be applicable to your particular circumstances. You should consult with a trained legal professional for additional information that may be applicable to you and your legal needs. The Considerations listed below are informational only. The Considerations listed below should not be construed as legal advice for your circumstances.
What happens if I pass away without a Will?
If a loved one passes without a Will, his or her estate may be subject to a probate proceeding wherein a court will apply the law of intestacy to the presenting circumstances to distribute the estate. The law of intestacy may not mirror the intentions of the deceased loved one and may distribute the estate in a fashion that the loved one did not intend. Passing without a Will may often require additional work and expense for surviving loved ones to resolve the estate. A Well Crafted Estate Plan can avoid many of these expenses and frustrations.
What is my estate?
An estate is the property and assets held by a living person that may be managed by another during his or her incapacity or may be transferred to others upon his or her passing. An estate includes both probate assets and nonprobate assets.
What is a probate asset?
In a general sense, a probate asset is an item of property held by a living person that may be subject to a probate proceeding following the owner's passing in order to distribute the property. An example may include an Antique Collection. Wills and Trusts often are the governing instruments of Well Crafted Estate Plans that will distribute these assets.
What is a non probate asset?
In a general sense, a non probate asset is an item of property held by a living person that will not be subject to a probate proceeding following the owner's passing to distribute the property. An example may include a Money Market Savings Account with a payable upon death beneficiary designation. A Trust may be the governing instrument of a Well Crafted Estate Plan that will distribute this type of asset. Or, inclusion of a beneficiary designation within the assets operating instructions may be the governing instrument. A consultation with an Estate Planning professional is likely necessary to understand and select your options.
What if I suffer an injury or illness that renders me unable to handle my affairs?
A Well Crafted Estate Plan can also assist in circumstances where an injury or illness results in you or your loved one's incapacity to handle his or her medical care or financial interests. Powers of Attorney (also known as Agents) may be identified to handle these issues on behalf of a person who is incapacitated. Advanced directives to physicians may also be created to provide specified instructions about your care and treatment in these circumstances.
What is included in a Well Crafted Estate Plan?
Each Well Crafted Estate Plan is unique. Depending on your circumstances, your plan may include:
- A Will
- A Trust(s)
- A Marital Property Agreement
- A Transfer on Death Designation
- A Personal Property Memorandum
- A Power of Attorney for Finances
- A Power of Attorney for Medical Care
- An Advance Directive to Physicians
- Consult with your attorney for additional planning tools and documents that may be appropriate for your plan.
Petit & Dommershausen, SC, is ready to help you understand the law of Estate Planning and help you create your Well Crafted Estate Plan.