19th Dec 2012
To answer this question, you have to know first what estate planning is. It is a series of activities that allows you to systematize your assets during your lifetime so as to provide for yourself and your heirs when you die or are incapacitated.
The standard documents used include Wills, Trusts, Financial Powers of Attorney and Advanced Health Care Directives. A well-prepared estate plan will provide for the orderly management of assets in the event of incapacity and the smooth and cost-efficient settlement and transfer of assets in the event of death. Since these documents are legal documents and involve overlapping legal issues, it is best to draft the document with the help of an attorney.
Since insurance companies and similar financial institutions also use the term estate planning, the phrase is often confused with financial planning. It is not, Estate planning attorneys are not in the business of selling life insurance, annuities, stocks or investments. Probate and Estate attorneys will not advise you on how and where to park your money. They will help you draft your Will or Trust documents so that your heirs may receive the maximum in inheritance in the event of your death.
Almost everyone should have these types of documents drafter. You should have a clear plan if you are in the following situations:
· You would like to have wishes fulfilled as to who would inherit your property;
· You would like to receive your desired health care management in the event that you are incapacitated;
· You are the father, mother or guardian of minor children or children with special needs such as those with disabilities or with special learning problems; and/or you want to avoid the public – and potentially embarrassing — proceedings of a probate and the very high expenses associated with such procedures.
You can say that your estate planning document is well-designed if your documents meet the following objectives:
· It gives clear instructions for your health management as well as that of your loved ones in the event that you are incapacitated;
· You maximize ownership or transfer of property even if you move to or own property in another state;
· It helps your heirs avoid a costly probate procedure;
· It can maintain the confidentiality and privacy of your assets
· It allows for a disposition of your property (including pensions and life insurance) exactly the way you wanted it to be;
· The document provides clear directions for the care of your loved ones;
· It provides protective trusts for your minor children or heirs with special needs.; and
· It helps to minimize your heirs’ payment of federal estate taxes.
Note that creating an estate plan may involve several different documents. This is where the assistance of an expert law office can help you. The law firm can advise you on what documents to use and how you can maximize protection for you and the people you care for.