Estate Planning Information

Estate planning information is vital to anyone making arrangements to bequeath their estate to the heirs. An estate-planning lawyer can provide vital estate planning information to help an estate owner discern local inheritance laws in any particular jurisdiction and maximize the amount of the estate that will pass to the beneficiaries.

Estate planning is the practice of preparing an estate for the distribution of funds, assets, and property to the heirs and beneficiaries after an estate owner passes. Estate planning can reduce many of the fees and taxes associated with the probate process. An estate-planning lawyer can set up a contingency plan for the proper allocation and execution of various intended goals and address concerns of the grantor. These may include making sure the maximum amount of the estate passes to the estate owner's anticipated beneficiaries and minimizing the involvement of probate court. In addition, estate plans can provide for and assigning a guardian for minors or disabled persons as well as planning for asset distribution after the death of the estate owner.

A properly executed estate plan will consist of several formal and legal documents that set guidelines, stipulations, and instructions for implementation of the estate owner's wishes by the trustee. Some of these documents serve to dictate health care decisions, manage the donor's property or business interests in the event that the estate owner should become incapacitated, set up trust funds, or direct the distribution of property in the occurrence of death.

Some of the more customary documents can include but are not limited to:

  • A Last Will and Testament: Used to distribute funds, assets, business interests, or personal property to the beneficiaries named within it after the death of the estate owner.
  • A Livings Trust: Used to hold a legal title to and/or provide a mechanism to manage the property, assets, or business interest of the estate owner during the life of or after the death of the estate owner.
  • A Living Will: Used to dictate advance medical treatment and healthcare instruction regarding the nature and extent of treatment to doctors and hospitals should the individual become incapable of relating conscious healthcare decisions

Other formal documents and contracts can specify what is to be done with the estate owner's primary residence, business, investments, life insurance, employee benefits, and other property or assets in the event that the estate owner is unable to make these dictions or expires. In addition, estate planning can include documents designating power of attorney to a trustee. This person will be able to make decisions concerning healthcare and/or fiduciary matters in place of the estate owner.

An estate consists of all the assets a person controls or owns and includes any property, assets, or funds in the person's name, held in a partnership, through a trust, or joint ownership arrangement.

These assets may include:

  • Real property and anything attached to it such as a houses, buildings, barns, trees, etc.
  • All personal and financial assets such as automobiles, bank accounts, stocks and bonds, mutual funds, stock options, cash, furniture, jewelry, art, collectibles, etc.
  • Business interests such as partnerships, corporations, joint ventures, sole proprietorships etc.
  • All claims you have against others, such as pain and suffering from an auto accident, etc.

Contact an estate-planning lawyer if you have any questions regarding inheritance laws or estate planning information to help you plan for your family's future.

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