Estate planning is one of the best ways to prepare yourself and your family for death, but that is not the only purpose of estate planning. Estate planning can also help you prepare for the possibility of incapacity during your lifetime. There are several different options when it comes to estate planning tools. Which ones are best for you will depend on your unique goals for the future. Your Kansas City estate planning attorney can help.
The basic elements of an estate plan
An appropriate estate plan should do more than just tell everyone who should receive your property after your death. Instead, a comprehensive estate plan may also include instructions for your care if you become disabled or incapacitated before your death, the name of a guardian and manager of inheritances for minor children, provisions for loved ones with special needs, and provisions for loved ones who may need financial assistance or asset protection.
An estate plan can also deal with life insurance policies for your surviving family, disability income insurance if you become unable to work, and long term care insurance to assist in financing your medical care in case of an extended illness or injury. An experienced Kansas City estate planning attorney can make sure you include all the elements necessary for you and your family.
How your estate should be handled after your death
The primary reason most people create an estate plan is to establish a method for handling your estate after your death. One of the primary estate planning tools used to establish what to do with your assets after your death is the Last Will and Testament, or Will for short. A Will is essentially a set of written instructions on how your estate should be distributed after your death. A Will can also provide a way for you to nominate a guardian for your children minor. A disadvantage of a Will, however, is that your estate must go through the probate process before your assets can be distributed. A Kansas City estate planning attorney can explain all of your options for this component of your estate plan.
Preparing yourself and your family for the possibility of incapacity
The term incapacity is defined as the ability to comprehend the consequences of certain legal proceedings, including entering into contracts or signing legal documents. Incapacity could be caused by either a physical or mental condition and can be temporary or permanent. When it comes to estate planning matters, incapacity refers to the ability of an individual to manage his or her own affairs and to make important legal decisions for themselves. Without an appropriate estate plan that addresses incapacity issues, you could end up being appointed a court-supervised conservator or guardian. Your Kansas City estate planning attorney can help you determine exactly what you need to be prepared in case of incapacity in the future.
Most common instruments used for incapacity planning
Two of the most common instruments used when planning for incapacity are Health Care Powers of Attorney and Financial Powers of Attorney. The Health Care Power of Attorney allows you to appoint a representative who will have the authority to make decisions regarding medical care and treatment for you when you can’t. Health Care Powers of Attorney are usually drafted so that they take effect even in cases of temporary incapacity. On the other hand, a Financial Power of Attorney does pretty much the same thing, except the person you select will have the ability to manage your financial affairs.
The time to create your estate plan is now
The reason most clients put off estate planning is they believe they are either too young or don’t have enough assets. Neither of these assumptions is true. First, you are never too young because, the reality is, you cannot predict how long you have. Nor can you be sure that an unexpected illness or injury won’t leave you in capacitated. Because of that uncertainty, the best course is to start your estate plan sooner rather than later. If for nothing else, do it for your family. The families of people who don’t have a plan, will ultimately be left to pick up the pieces without knowing where to start.
Estate planning is not as expensive as you may think
For many, the idea of creating an estate plan seems far too expensive, especially for those with modest incomes. What you should know is, you can always start with a simple plan initially and then update or upgrade it as your financial circumstances change. It is better to have something, than nothing at all. Starting small is a good choice for single individuals and young families. Then, as your needs and the needs of your family change, you can adjust your plan accordingly. An experienced Kansas City estate planning attorney can provide the necessary guidance and peace of mind you need.
Join us for a FREE workshop! If you have questions regarding trusts, or any other estate planning matters, contact Gaughan & Connealy for a consultation either online or by calling us at (913) 262-2000.
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