2018 Importance of Estate Plans

Importance of Estate Plans

Everyone should have an estate plan. I love the line that the death rate still hovers around 100%.  An estate plan is a roadmap for you and your family. It provides guidance to your loved ones in making decisions for you in the event of your incapacity and guides your family in implementing your wishes for the distribution of your assets after your death. A modern estate plan includes a number of documents including Wills, Trusts, Living Will, and Powers of Attorney.
Last Will and Testament (“Will”) A Will is a basic document that provides direction for the distribution of your property to beneficiaries after death and allows you to appoint guardians for your minor children, as supervised by the probate court (“Probate”). Probate is a public record process that takes time and money to complete.  Without a will (intestate), a state law determines the distribution of property and guardians.   
Revocable Living Trust (“Trust”) A Trust is similar to a Will because it is a way to transfer property at death to beneficiaries, but when proper planning is done, there is no Probate involvement in a Trust. Additionally, Trusts may continue to hold assets until beneficiaries reach certain ages or life events, offering some greater flexibility.
Living Will A Living Will spells out the medical treatment a person wants at the end of life if they are unable to speak for themselves. It tells medical professionals a person’s wishes regarding specific decisions, such as whether to accept various forms of life support.
Financial Power of Attorney (“FPOA”) and Health Care Power of Attorney (“HCPOA”) These documents allow you to name an agent to make decisions for you in the event of your incapacity. If you don’t have these documents and you do become incapacitated, a loved one will probably need to go through Probate to be named your guardian.
An attorney can help create these documents based on your circumstances and wishes.  While we at T&W cannot create the documents, for clients, we can help consult in the process, ensure that account titles and beneficiaries match the estate plan design, and keep copies for convenience.  We are happy to share the names of some estate planning attorneys upon request. 

If you would like to talk over this or any other Financial Planning or Investment Management questions, contact us.  Glad to help.

Brent Williams, CFP®