Estate planning can be an uncomfortable task many would prefer to put off indefinitely. However, spending a bit of time to make sure that your wishes are respected after your death can save your loved ones a great deal of heartache, stress, and money.
Having a coherent estate plan, created with the help of a skilled Louisville attorney, can help those left with your assets avoid the lengthy court procedures associated with the probate process. Even with a valid will and testament in place, the documents should be periodically updated to address any major life changes or events, such as the birth of a child or a new business venture.
Louisville estate planning lawyers can help design and implement a viable plan to ensure that the handling of your estate and final affairs will not pose a burden to your friends and family.
Important Estate Planning Tools
An estate planning lawyer will help determine which of the following types of testamentary documents are best suited to protect and carry out their client’s wishes, depending on the specific situation:
- Last Will and Testament: A valid will is the most basic legal document that everyone should spend some time creating and keeping updated. This document will determine how property is divided amongst heirs after someone passes away. A will enables them to designate an executor who they would like to be in charge of settling affairs and dividing and distributing belongings according to their instructions
- Living Will: A living will is a straightforward document that safeguards a person’s wishes regarding medical treatment if they are seriously injured or rendered permanently unconscious. This type of document, often known as a “do not resuscitate” form, confirms that their beliefs and wishes regarding extraordinary life-saving measures will be respected, even if they cannot speak for themselves
- Power of Attorney: Designating a power of attorney is another way to protect personal interests when someone is unable to advocate for themselves. It enables a person of their choosing to act on their behalf if they are incapacitated or geographically unavailable to sign legally binding documents. With a valid power of attorney document, a spouse or another trusted individual is able to sign contracts on their behalf as if they were physically present
- Trusts: Trusts enable people to protect personal assets both during and after their lifetime by designating someone to handle the assets according to their specific instructions
A trust allows identification of beneficiaries who will at some point receive the entrusted property, as well as a trustee to distribute or hold onto the property according to the terms of the trust. A trust may manifest as a monthly payment to heirs, or can ensure that an inheritance is not distributed until its beneficiaries reach a certain age.
Benefit of an Attorney
Estate planning is not limited to the wealthy – anyone can benefit from the security of knowing that their loved ones will be taken care of and provided for if something were to happen to them. Having a proper will or similar testamentary document in place can give someone the confidence that their children will be taken care of financially and by people they trust, as opposed to by a court-appointed guardian.
A well-designed estate plan can also help avoid costly estate tax consequences, saving someone’s loved ones both time and money while staying out of probate court proceedings. Planning ahead in this way will maintain the integrity of their personal, financial, and business interests if anything happens to them, while putting the people they love in the best possible position to take care of themselves.
Laws pertaining to inheritance are extremely complex and drafting the related documents so that they will be interpreted faithfully in a court of law requires skill and experience. A seasoned estate planning attorney can help determine exactly what their client’s wishes are regarding inheritance and final planning decisions, and will draft their documents with them to guarantee that those wishes are respected.
Contacting an Attorney
Accidents can happen to anyone, and it is important to take steps necessary to make certain that the people you love will be taken care of if anything were to happen to you. There is never a bad time to take responsibility for your estate and confirm that you have a plan in place so that you do not become a burden on your family.
Louisville estate planning lawyers are experienced in all aspects of estate planning, and can help you efficiently and thoroughly draft the necessary legal documents to protect your interests in the future. Contact an estate planning attorney today to take the first steps toward knowing that your loved ones are always taken care of.