What is a better way to show your family how much you love them than to prepare your estate plan? Estate planning is one of the most important things you can do to provide for your family in the future. Importantly, an estate plan allows you to choose who will protect your children if you cannot. It dictates who will guard the money that you leave behind for your children. It can determine whether your child will receive their inheritance upon your passing, or at another time.

Did you know that you can avoid probate court by having a revocable living trust?  It may cost more to set-up, upfront, but it will save your loved ones the costs and stress of court proceedings.  Several probate matters cause family strife and arguments. Who wants unnecessary family drama made part of a public proceeding? A good basic estate plan consists of several different documents. Here are some important documents that might be included in your individualized estate plan:

Revocable Living Trust  (A legal agreement between the person who has the assets and the person or institution who agrees to hold those assets for the benefit of the recipient.  The person who holds and manages the property is the Trustee and the recipient is referred to as the Beneficiary. The agreement will be a set of instructions for how you want everything handled). There are irrevocable trusts, as well, which may have tax advantages, but you will be unable to use your assets in a way other than that designated by the trust.

Pour-over Will (A legal document outlining that all property that passes through the will at your death is transferred to your trust).

Will (A legal document by which a person expresses their wishes as to how their property is to be distributed at death, and names one or more persons, the executor, to manage the estate until its final distribution.)

Healthcare Power of Attorney ( A legal documents outlining who will make your medical decisions if you are incapacitated)

Property Power of Attorney (A legal document outlining who will make your financial decisions if you are incapacitated)

Living Will or Advance Directive (A legal document outlining a short medical directive)

Appointment of Agent for Disposition of Remains (A legal document addressing how do you want your body to be handled after death)

You may also decide to purchase life insurance, to provide your beneficiaries with a designated amount of money after you die. Although we don’t handle life insurance, we can let you know some agents who can walk you through these options.

If you have a will, but life has changed, it may be time to revise your estate plan and consider a revocable living trust and amendment (codicil” to your Will. If you have gotten remarried since your will was signed, or you are recently widowed or divorced, you and/or your children may not be sufficiently protected. Maybe you designated a guardian for your children in your will, but you didn’t think through the various “what-ifs” that could happen. You need a lawyer who can walk you through the scenarios that could happen and the lawyers here at the Law Offices of J. Jeltes, Ltd. are here to help you plan for major life transitions.