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Basic Elements of an Estate Plan

On Behalf of | Aug 22, 2023 | Probate & Estate Planning

Estate planning may include documentation of your wishes concerning the distribution of your estate after your death; provisions for your health care decisions during your lifetime in the event that you  are unable to make decisions for yourself; and appointment of an Attorney-in-Fact to act under a Power of Attorney during your lifetime in the circumstances you set forth in that document, in the event that you cannot make business decisions for yourself or in the event that you choose to have that person act on your behalf for other reasons.

In preparing your will, you will need to list your assets for informational purposes, including identification of the asset; estimated value; name(s) owned in.  Some of your assets may pass by operation of law to a named beneficiary or joint owner.  Others will pass by will to those named therein, and will require filing with the probate court and the probate process.  The list will assist you in making decisions about your estate. It is not usually necessary to name each item you own in your will.  It is necessary to name specifically devised or bequeathed items. Keep in mind the your debts will need to be paid out of your estate before bequests or devises in your will can take effect.

In your will you will designate beneficiaries you devise or bequeath certain property or types of property to.  You will designate a trusted family member, friend, or professional, to administer the estate on your behalf.  You may name a guardian for minor children in the event your spouse has predeceased you or died simultaneously with you.  A will is required by law to be disclosed.  A will is not effective until it is admitted to probate in the Probate Court.  Once a person passes away, a power of attorney cannot be used and is no longer valid.

In certain instances, and for particular reasons, your attorney may recommend that you place property in a Trust, either during your lifetime or upon your death.  This is an issue that will depend upon the circumstances of your estate and is not helpful for everyone.  Trusts may be preferred for privacy; may be helpful for tax minimization; may ease the administration of an estate after one’s death; may preserve property for the disabled, or for minors.  These are different types of trusts and require the advice and assistance of a professional.