Everyone has an estate. Your estate includes your house, bank accounts, personal possessions, retirement accounts, personal ownership interests in a business and more.
The value of your estate is reduced by your liabilities, such as mortgages and loans. Without careful planning, items that are in your estate may pass in a manner where someone else, such as a judge, makes the decisions.
There are several important planning steps that you can utilize to preserve your estate:
- Establish a Will. A will, also known as a Last Will and Testament, is a legally enforceable declaration of how a person wants their property and assets distributed after death. In a will, a person can also recommend a guardian for their minor children and make provisions for any surviving pets. Without a will, a probate judge will decide how to distribute your estate.
- Establish a Living Trust. Also called a Revocable Trust, a living trust is often used to avoid probate. It’s designed to allow for the easy transfer of the trust creator or settlor’s assets, while bypassing the often complex and expensive legal process of probate. Living trust agreements designate a trustee who holds legal possession of assets and property that flow into the trust. This type of trust can be changed or revoked at any time during the lifetime of the person who set it up.
- HIPAA Authorization: HIPAA is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, a federal law that protects a person’s private medical and mental health information. A HIPAA Authorization is a document that designates a person who may receive another person’s private medical and mental health information.
- Living Will Declaration: Also called an Advance Directive, is a document that instructs your physicians and loved ones as to your intentions relative to life support (i.e., artificial nutrition, hydration and respiration), in the event that you are permanently unconscious or have a terminal condition.
- Establish a Power of Attorney: This is a document which names and authorizes a person (the attorney-in-fact) to make financial decisions, property decisions or medical decisions for another person (the principal). The Power of Attorney is frequently used in the event of a principal’s illness or disability, or when the principal can’t be present to sign necessary legal documents for financial transactions.
- Healthcare Surrogate Designation: Also called a Health Care Power of Attorney: A Healthcare Surrogate Designation is a document naming a person to make health care decisions for another person (the principal) when the principal is no longer able to do so.
- Permanent Life Insurance: Cash value inside a life insurance policy is excluded from your estate and will pass to a named beneficiary, even without a will!
Financial Services provided for Estate Planning
- A comprehensive Estate Plan, including the following legal services:
- Last Will & Testament
- Living Trust
- General Durable Power of Attorney
- Advanced Care Directive (Living Will)
- Healthcare Surrogate Designation
- HIPAA Authorization
- Support & documentation
- One year of unlimited access to the law firm for support
- All documents sent to the client in a bound leather portfolio for signature and notarization
- Secure file storage: fully-executed original documents will be kept in secure, fireproof storage