Estate planning is a useful tool for anyone. There is a misconception that estate planning is only necessary for those who are wealthy and have significant assets, but a comprehensive estate plan carries benefits for many people. An estate plan protects you, your family, and your assets.
Parts of a Comprehensive Estate Plan in Lincoln
The exact documents needed in your estate plan will differ based on your needs. Generally, a comprehensive estate plan includes the following documents:
- A Will: This document explains how your estate and assets are distributed after your death. It also allows you to appoint an executor to manage this distribution. Without a will, the state will appoint an executor, and your assets will follow Nebraska’s intestacy laws. A will can also provide caregiving and guardian instructions for your minor children.
- A Trust: This is a legal entity in which you can place control of your assets. In certain types of trusts, these assets remain under your control and then pass to a trustee when you die. Because the assets are always controlled by a third party, they don’t end up under the state’s control. This means that those assets avoid probate court, protecting them and your family’s time.
- Financial Power of Attorney: This document allows you to appoint a trusted loved one or professional to take care of your finances and financial decisions if you can’t. If you become incapacitated or otherwise unable to make financial decisions, this person can pay bills and manage your finances.
- Healthcare Power of Attorney: This gives a loved one or professional the authority to make medical decisions on your behalf. If you are incapacitated or unable to communicate, your healthcare power of attorney has the ability to make those decisions.
- A Living Will and Medical Directives: A living will includes medical directives that state your wishes for medical care and treatment. If you are incapacitated, these documents will provide a guide for the type of healthcare you do and do not want at the end of your life.
These documents can help you feel confident about your end-of-life care and ensure that the people you want to inherit your estate see those benefits.
What an Estate Plan Can Do for You
An estate plan has several benefits. Some of these include:
- Limiting Your Family’s Time in Probate
Probate is where your assets go if you don’t have a trust or designated beneficiaries. Probate is long, complicated, and expensive for your heirs. If you don’t have a will, probate is conducted by Nebraska intestacy laws, meaning that your assets have a set line of succession. A complete estate plan limits the time and money that your family and heirs must spend in court. Although you may have some assets not set up in trusts, protecting large portions of your estate in this way helps.
Without a will or trust, an executor other than the one you desire will distribute your assets. Even if intestacy succession laws match your wishes, probate is a costly court process. Your family should be grieving and taking care of your final wishes. The probate process cuts into the benefits you want to leave for them, and they can’t access those assets until probate is complete.
- Assurance About Your End-of-Life Care
A living will and both powers of attorney ensure that you are taken care of if you are incapacitated. This can help you feel more at ease in case of a medical emergency or illness. You know that you have created guidelines to be followed. Without these documents, family members may have to petition the court for the authority to make medical and financial decisions on your behalf during a potentially time-sensitive event.
- Protecting Your Estate
An estate plan keeps your assets safe during your lifetime and after your death. You know that people you trust will be managing those assets and distributing them, and you know your heirs and beneficiaries will receive the most from those assets. By keeping assets out of probate, you are also keeping your estate and finances private.
It’s essential to begin your estate planning soon, and regularly update the plan after big life changes. By doing this, and working with an estate planning attorney, you are helping ensure that the plan is legally enforceable and matches your current wishes.
Q: What Is One of the Purposes of Estate Planning?
A: Estate planning helps you prepare for the future. This includes your own future, the future of your assets, and the future of your family and heirs. You can provide instructions for your care at the end of your life while protecting your assets and estate during your lifetime. After your death, an estate plan provides your heirs and beneficiaries with the most benefits and ensures that those who you want to benefit from your estate will.
Q: What Are the Three Primary Goals of Estate Planning?
A: The essential goals for many creating an estate plan include:
- Protect and preserve your assets, property, and accounts during your life and after your death for your heirs to benefit from.
- Set guidelines for your end-of-life or incapacitated healthcare and provide legal authority to make decisions on your behalf.
- Provide financial security for your family and beneficiaries by minimizing the impact of tax and probate costs.
Q: What Are the Key Elements of an Estate Plan?
A: The main documents that make up an estate plan are:
- A will
- Financial power of attorney
- Healthcare power of attorney
- Living will and medical directives
- Beneficiary designations
It’s also important to review each of these aspects every few years or after major life changes. This includes marriages, growing families, divorces, deaths in the family, and other changes. Any of these can alter your beneficiaries and wishes for your estate after death.
Q: What Are the Four Reasons You Should Create an Estate Plan at Any Age?
A: Creating an estate plan is not only for the elderly and the wealthy. An estate plan has several benefits, including:
- Avoiding probate court
- Limiting financial burdens on your loved ones
- Ensuring that your assets are protected and distributed to the individuals and entities you want them to be
- Protecting your own health and safety in case of injury or illness
Stange Law Firm: Estate Planning in Lincoln, Nebraska
For your estate plan to provide these benefits, it must be legally valid and enforceable. Stange Law Firm can help you make it so. Contact us today.