Estate planning is an essential financial tool that should be used by every adult. Planning your estate is not a service just for the wealthy. It is a planning tool that provides for your family and protects your wishes. Careful estate planning also helps you protect your medical choices and provides legal authority to an appointed representative in the event that you are medically incapable of making your own choices.
Additionally, careful planning of your estate can provide you with protections and tax breaks at the present time. A Tulsa estate planning lawyer can provide you with information on Living Trusts and similar legal issues that can reduce your tax burden now and in the future.
Benefits Of Planning Your Estate
Some of the benefits that you will receive when you decide to plan your estate will include:
Last Will and Testament. You will make a current Will and Testament. This will be a document that contains all of your final wishes. Within this document you will establish many important items concerning your estate. This will include establishing beneficiaries and indicating specific personal items you wish to pass on to a specific person. Most people use their Last Will as a way to provide for their family members and bequeath special gifts to friends or charities.
Your last Will will also provide your family with guidelines for paying your final debts and funeral arrangements. Your Will also establishes a specific person to make sure that all of your last wishes are followed. This person is known as the Executor of the Will and will be required to follow all parts of the Will until all the assets are distributed.
It is very important to keep your Will updated because things change. An executor that you have previously appointed may move, pass away, or otherwise no longer wish to have that duty. Assets change and beneficiaries may also change over the years. It is very important to review and update your Will yearly to ensure that everything contained in the document is still your final wishes and that all other involved parties are still included.
Health Care Advocate
In the event that your health becomes deteriorated to a point where you cannot make medical decisions on your own, you will want to have an appointed Health Care Advocate. A health care advocate has the legal authority to make medical decisions for you based on your specific wishes.
A health care advocate can be used at any point in your life when you are medically unable to make the decision for yourself. These advocates can represent your interests in the event of an accident or an illness.
As your Tulsa estate planning lawyer will explain, it is important to select a person who knows and understands your medical desires in the event that you are unable to make your decisions. Most of your medical choices will be written out in the document for the representative to understand.
Updating your health care advocate is as important as updating your Will. You never know when or if a medical crisis can occur, and you will always want someone available who is willing to follow your wishes in this type of situation.
If you have minor children, part of your planning will include establishing guardianship for those minors in the event you are unable to care for your children. This is a protection that every parent should have in place. Selecting a guardian that you know and trust will ensure that your children are protected and will be raised with your values and goals.
Establishing a guardian now also protects your children from being placed into protective custody or foster care until the court system decides who should care for your children in your absence. This is one of the most important things you can do to protect your children while they are young.
Probate is the legal action that occurs when the Court is required to distribute the assets of an estate. This usually happens if there is not a Will or if beneficiaries have not been determined. Probate may also be used if the Will is disputed in any way by a family member.
Probate can be very expensive and can take an extended period of time to complete. In many cases, a third or more of the entire estates value is lost to probate costs. This can be avoided by having the proper estate planning in place.
Reducing Tax Burden
Inheritance taxes as well as retirement taxes can be very burdensome for people. Planning your estate the correct way, however, can help eliminate or significantly reduce these burdens. Your Tulsa estate planning lawyer can show you how to use specific financial tools, such as Living Trusts, to manipulate your estate in a way to reduce these tax burdens.
Your family may face financial uncertainty after the loss of their loved one. Having the right financial tools in place will help them survive financially during this most difficult time.
It should be understood that tax laws change almost yearly. Because of this, it is important to speak with your attorney at least once a year to review your estate plan and related financial products to ensure that they remain in compliance with the law and you are receiving all of the current benefits.
Overall, the main reason that you should plan your estate and asset distribution is to protect your family. Your family will be undergoing a lot of stress and emotional pain, and having all of the right financial tools in place will ensure that they will not face future legal issues.
You will also protect your family from making the wrong decisions about your health and your final wishes if you have these safeguards in place. No one wants to go against what their loved one desires. However, many mistakes can be made if there are no legal documents providing the remaining family members with a guideline to follow to meet your wishes.
Planning for the future will not take a lot of your time or much effort. In the end, it will give you peace of mind to know that you have protected your family.