The document called a last will is the most common estate planning device. As most people are aware, you can use a will to state your wishes regarding the postmortem distribution of your property.
Before we look at the other documents that you may want to include in your estate plan, we should point out the fact that a will is not always the best choice as a primary vehicle of asset transfer. You should explore all of your options and act in a fully informed manner.
When you use a will, the executor or personal representative must admit the will to probate. The heirs to the estate do not receive their inheritances while this process is underway, and it can be time-consuming.
This is just one of the pitfalls. You could proactively implement probate avoidance strategies so that assets can be transferred to your heirs in a more timely manner.
Revocable living trusts are widely utilized by people who want to facilitate asset transfers outside of probate.
A well constructed estate plan should also address the contingencies that you may face during the end of your life. Many people become unable to communicate their own decisions at some point in time, and you can account for this when you plan your estate.
There is another type of will called a living will. This document is used for incapacity planning purposes. You state your preferences regarding the utilization of life-sustaining measures when you create a living will.
If you do not have a living will in place, your next of kin would be forced to make this excruciating decision if you were on life-support.
Durable powers of attorney are also used by people who want to prepare for possible incapacity. With a durable power of attorney, you name someone to act on your behalf in the event of your incapacitation.
A durable financial power of attorney can be executed to account for financial decision-making, and you can also include a durable power of attorney for health care. The latter document is sometimes called a health care proxy.
When you have these documents in place, hand-picked decision-makers will be empowered to act on your behalf if and when it becomes necessary.
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We have just scratched the surface with some general information in this blog post. There are numerous different estate planning documents that can be used to accomplish varying objectives. The optimal combination will depend upon the circumstances.
If you would like to discuss your unique personal situation with a licensed professional, our firm can help. We offer free consultations, and you can contact us through this page to set up an appointment: Southampton PA Estate Planning Attorney.
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