2nd Feb 2013
Benjamin Franklin said, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” The great American patriot simply wanted to say that death is inevitable. But not only that; death is also unpredictable. Nobody in his right mind can predict when he will die. Since death is inevitable and unpredictable, there is only one best time for a person to prepare his final instructions – NOW. Yes, now, while you are still healthy and can decide for yourself.
If you have decided to make your final instructions, you would be advised to seek the counsel of an experienced estate planning attorney. You have a bewildering array of estate planning documents that can be prepared. You may be familiar with the Will. Yet you may not know that there are several kinds of Wills. You may also set forth your final instructions by creating a Trust. Again, there are different kinds of Trusts such as A-B Trust, Revocable Living Trust, and Irrevocable Trust.
You also have estate planning documents that take care of your needs should be mentally incapacitated. These include: Durable Powers of Attorney, Health Care Directives and Living Wills. An experienced probate lawyer can help you arrive at the estate planning documents that best suit your needs.
The preparation of your documents involves personal information that you must be willing to share with your lawyer. The most important piece of information will be who you would want to inherit your estate. These are known as your beneficiaries. Usually your beneficiaries will come from your immediate family. Thus, you will need to provide information such as your current marital status, the names and ages of your children and the other beneficiaries of your estate, if any. If you intend to leave property to your children, you will need to stipulate at what ages they will actually acquire the inheritance. You must also decide the amount or percentage of your estate that your designated heirs will get.
The ages of your children are important especially if you have children of minor age. If you have minor children, then you would be advised to designate a guardian. This is the individual tasked with caring for your children should you and your spouse die before they become adults. Besides raising up your children, the guardian will also manage your children’s money.
Then, you have to furnish your lawyer with a comprehensive inventory of your assets and their appraised values. This can help your estate planning attorney to determine the most effective estate planning documents to use.
If you have not prepared your Will or Trust, now would be the best time while your mental faculties are still sharp and are very healthy. And to ensure that your wishes for your beneficiaries be met, it is best that you give the essential information to your lawyer.
Dwight Tompkins is a probate and estate planning attorney located in Orange County in Orange, CA. For more information visit www.tompkins-law.com