Creating a comprehensive estate plan is essential to ensure that in the future, your assets will be distributed in accordance with your wishes, provide you piece of mind, and helps your family and loved ones avoid time, confusion and frustration. Several important documents can be included in an estate plan, depending on the assets involved and the way in which you decide to structure your plan.
We are here to help. A Chandler trust and estate planning lawyer could provide the comprehensive guidance needed to help you formulate an estate plan that complies with state law and details your wishes. A skilled attorney at our firm could help you navigate this complex process and advise you on the most effective methods of structuring your estate plan.
Many people operate on the assumption that an estate plan is not necessary until one gets closer to retirement. However, an estate plan is an important legal option that most adults could benefit from. Many aspects of an estate plan can be modified, so if a person’s circumstances change after the original plan is created, they usually can go back later and change the legal documents to reflect their current situation.
One very significant reason an estate plan is so important is that in the absence of a will, trust, or estate plan, the person will be considered to have died intestate. When someone dies intestate, this means that the court ultimately has control over how the assets are disbursed following the individual’s death.
Further, without an estate plan the court will distribute the individual’s assets based on the laws of intestate succession, which prioritizes beneficiaries based on their relation to the decedent. This distribution method may not necessarily match up with what the person would have wished had they created their own estate plan. The best way for an individual to ensure that their personal affairs and the distribution of their assets are handled in accordance with their wishes upon their death is to create a comprehensive estate plan.
There are several key benefits to creating a trust, including the avoidance of certain types of taxes and enhanced protection of the individual’s assets. Trusts can be either irrevocable or revocable.
When someone creates a trust, they convey ownership and control of those assets into the trust vehicle, where these assets will be managed by the trustee. Sometimes the person who creates the trust, known as the grantor, is the trustee, or they may appoint someone else to act as trustee.
With an irrevocable trust, once the grantor establishes the provisions of the trust, names their beneficiaries, and transfers ownership of assets into the trust, they cannot make any changes. With a revocable trust, if the grantor wishes to make any changes down the line or even terminate the trust they can do so. A local lawyer could help someone determine which type of trust may be best for their estate plan.
A will is another important aspect of a detailed estate plan. Depending on the individual’s estate planning goals and assets, they may be able to use a will in place of a trust, or vice versa. In some cases it may be wise to execute both a will and a trust.
A will states how the individual wishes their assets to be disbursed on their death and identifies an executor to manage the disbursement of the individual’s property to their beneficiaries. Wills commonly make provisions establishing a guardian and successor guardian if the individual dies and has children who are minors.
As is the case with trusts, there are also several types of powers of attorney documents that can be establish in someone’s estate plan, including a general, financial durable, health care, and limited power of attorney. In a power of attorney, an individual can designate an agent to handle their financial concerns and manage their assets if they are incapacitated. A power of attorney can also delegate the authority to make healthcare decisions and oversee the individual’s personal affairs upon the agent. This document can grant the agent considerable leeway to make decisions on the principal’s behalf, or may afford narrow powers to the agent.
If you have questions about the most constructive way to formulate your estate plan, or need help creating a trust, one of our Chandler trust and estate planning lawyers could offer assistance. We could walk you through creating an estate plan and ensure your wishes are communicated in full. Call our office now to arrange a legal consultation.