What You Need To Know About Estate Planning
September 5, 2018 | Stone Legal Group, PLLC
Estate Planning is the process for providing care during your lifetime if you are unable to take care of yourself, as well as what happens to your estate at your passing. It can also provide for your minor children, if necessary. Below are several frequently asked questions we receive about Estate Planning.
If I die without a Last Will and Testament or a Trust what happens?
If you die without a Last Will and Testament or a Trust, the Commonwealth of Kentucky where you live will make the decision about who receives your assets. They will appoint an administrator to gather your assets, pay your bills, and then distribute your estate according to its’, plan not yours. This would not include jointly owned property and beneficiaries that you have listed on investment accounts, bank accounts, retirement accounts, and life insurance policies.
Can I prepare my own Last Will and Testament?
Drafting of a Last Will and Testament and Estate Planning is a complicated process. There are many state and federal laws that you may not know about which could negatively affect your intentions as set forth in your Last Will and Testament. It is best to consult with a professional in Estate Planning to make sure your Last Will and Testament reflects your wishes.
Is there a difference between a Last Will and Testament and a Living Will?
A Last Will and Testament directs how and where the assets you have accumulated will be distributed after your death, while the Living Will is your written statement of your healthcare preferences if you become unable to communicate them to your doctors and healthcare professionals.
I have told my family what I want to have happen as far as my healthcare goes do I still need a Living Will?
Yes. By having a Living Will, it ensures your choices will be carried out by the healthcare professionals caring for you. It is also wise to have a Living Will in case there are differences of opinions from other family members, whose opinions may not be similar to your choices.
I have heard that Trusts are only for the wealthy. Is there any benefit to having a Trust if I am not wealthy?
Trusts are not just for the wealthy. A Trust can serve many purposes depending on your circumstances. A Trust can place restrictions or guidelines on how, when and /or where an inheritance is received, spent or used. This can prevent your family, your children, or your spouse from being unable to receive government benefits or having the inheritance squandered or lost to creditors. If you have a child or spouse with special needs, who cannot handle money, or who may be too young, a Trust is an excellent choice. A Trust also has the ability to keep the information concerning your estate private, as it does not have to go through a court or Probate process.
So once I have an Estate Plan I do not have look at it again right?
No. Once you have an Estate Plan in place, it should be reviewed every 2 to 3 years to make sure it still meets your wishes and that the individuals you have selected to carry out your wishes such as your executor, guardian or trustee are still capable of doing those tasks and they have your confidence. Your Estate Plan should also be reviewed any time there is a birth, death, marriage or divorce in your family,as these events usually will result in the need to update and/or change your Estate Plan.