The Basics of Estate Planning

What Is Estate Planning?

Estate planning, at its core, is a way for you to protect and take care of your family’s needs after your death. It is also a way for you to protect your assets and your family if you are unexpectedly incapacitated. There are many different estate planning tools you can use to plan for your family’s protection. But, don’t try to create what you think you need from an online legal form.

Proper estate planning is more complex that what you can do with a simple do-it-yourself form. You need an attorney who is knowledgeable and experienced in estate planning to help you create a good plan.. The actual documents you need in your estate plan depend on your individual situation.

You need to talk to an attorney about your options. A “one size fits all” form simply won’t protect you. And, a comprehensive estate plan actually prepares you for death and if you are unexpectedly incapacitated.

Planning for your family’s future is critical. By planning ahead, you get to determine how your property is handled and to whom it is distributed. And, if you do become incapacitated, either permanently or temporarily, an estate plan can protect you and your family when you can’t make decisions for yourself.

Planning for Your Death

When preparing for death, proper estate planning actually has two parts. One part provides that your debts are paid after your death. The other part designates the beneficiaries of your assets the debts are paid.

A Last Will & Testament is the most common estate planning tool that covers both of these situations. A Will is essentially your written instructions about how you want your property handled after your death. In it, you also specify who you want to manage your property.

Planning for Incapacity

There are certain situations in life that can result in your becoming incapacitated. Sometimes an injury can create that situation, other times it may be a medical condition. In either situation, however, you need someone to take care of you and make decisions for you when you can’t do so.

This is why planning for incapacity is crucial. And, when planning for being unexpectedly incapacitated, there are actually two parts to that plan as well. The first part of an incapacity plan deals with your person healthcare. In that part of the plan, you name the person you want to make healthcare decisions for you when you can’t do so yourself. The other part of the plan deals with your financial affairs and is where you designate the person you want to make decisions that affect you financially if you are incapacitated.

The need to plan ahead in these areas cannot be over emphasized. If you do become incapacitated and you don’t have a plan in place, it may be necessary for your family to seek court intervention to appoint a guardian for you. That process can be extremely expensive so it is a good idea to plan ahead.

To get your plan in place, call me at (254) 203-0843. I’d be happy to visit with you, discuss your needs, and craft an estate plan specifically tailored to meet your needs and protect your family. ¬†As an alternative, you can complete an online questionnaire and I’ll get started on your estate plan after a brief discussion with you.

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