Some people are under the impression that the only estate planning document you need is a will. This is a very shortsighted perspective because there are other considerations that will enter the picture if you want to plan your estate properly.
The idea that a will is the right choice for most people should be tossed out the window. In reality, the majority of people with a reasonable store of resources would be better served by the utilization of a revocable living trust.
You do not lose control of assets that you convey into this type of trust because you retain the right revocation, and you would be the trustee. One of the general benefits is the fact that the trust will still make sense as your life changes over the years.
For example, let’s say that you have a living trust before you have children. When your first child comes along, your estate plan should be constructed to empower someone to manage assets on behalf of a child if it becomes necessary.
This would already be in place if you have a living trust because you would name a successor trustee to administer the trust after your death when you create the trust. If you are getting married, you and your spouse could potentially create a shared living trust.
Another benefit of a living trust is the streamlined estate administration. A will would be admitted to probate, which is a long, drawn out, expensive process. The probate court is not involved when a living trust is utilized.
You can also include spendthrift protections when you have a living trust, and this is another advantage. The living trust is the trust that is best for a wide range of people, but there are other trusts that can be used to satisfy specific objectives.
Letter of Last Instruction
Your estate administrator is going to need certain information to be able to effectively handle their tasks. You and only you have the ability to share this info, and you should do so in a letter of last instruction.
We are talking about the location of keys, access codes, and hardcopy documents and the contact information for people that should be notified about your passing. Login data for accounts that are managed online would be part of the equation as well.
Advance Directives for Health Care
Your estate plan should address the eventualities that you may face toward the end of your life. In some cases, doctors can keep people alive indefinitely through the use of artificial life-sustaining measures. You can state your preferences regarding the utilization of these measures in a living will.
A durable power of attorney for health care is another directive that should be part of the plan. You name someone to make medical decisions that are not related to life-support in this document.
In order to give your health care agent the ability to freely discuss your condition with your doctors, you should add a HIPAA release.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 11.3 percent of senior citizens have contracted the disease, and the number is over 30 percent for individuals that are 85 and older.
This is a significant percentage, and Alzheimer’s is not the only cause of cognitive impairment. With this in mind, you should have a durable power of attorney for property to name a financial decision-maker.
If you have a revocable living trust, you can give the successor trustee the power to administer the trust in the event of your incapacity. This is yet another benefit that living trusts provide.
Attend a Free Webinar!
We conduct webinars that cover the most important estate planning and elder care planning topics. These are free events, so you should definitely join us to gain a better understanding of these important processes.
You can see the dates if you visit our webinar page, and we ask that you follow the instructions to register for the one that works for you.
Need Help Now?
If you are ready to work with a Burlington, VT estate planning lawyer to develop your plan, we would be more than glad to help. You can schedule a consultation if you call us at 802-879-7133, and you can fill out our contact form if you would rather send us a message.