When you are ready to sit down with an estate planning attorney, it is important to choose an attorney who is well versed in the ever-changing probate and tax laws. Our estate planning attorneys are dedicated to assisting our clients in ensuring that their estate plans protect their assets, as well as clearly define and execute what their wishes for that estate are. When you feel ready, do not hesitate to reach out to one of the best estate lawyers O’Fallon MO relies on to help you with your needs.
Why Do I Need an Estate Plan?
No one likes to think about the day they will no longer be here, but the truth is that day is inevitable. Not having an estate plan in place could have a major negative impact on your loved ones. What your wishes may have been had you drawn up a plan could end up being much different should the courts have to decide how your assets should be distributed. There could also be serious tax burdens on your heirs without a plan drafted by a seasoned estate planning attorney.
Another possible negative drawback for those who die without an estate plan in place is that their estate must go through the probate process. This is very time-consuming, taking at least 12 months, if not longer, for the estate to be settled. The probate process is also public, so your financial information is no longer personal.
Another important component of an estate plan is having a living will (also referred to as an advanced directive). This document contains what your wishes are in the event you become incapacitated and unable to communicate what you would accept and not accept for medical treatment. A living will can also address what your wishes are for organ donation. Having a living will take the burden off your loved ones in being forced to make those decisions.
Powers of Attorney
You can also have your estate planning attorney draw up a document designating powers of attorney. You should have someone designated that will be able to oversee and ensure that your healthcare wishes you stipulated in your living will are carried out. At the same time, you should choose a person that would have power of attorney over decision-making for your finances. You can choose to have the same person as both or you can choose different people. Your estate planning attorney can discuss with you the factors that you may wish your power of attorneys should have.
If you have already put estate planning documents in place and then go through a divorce, you should consult with an estate planning attorney to make any changes that are necessary. You should also change the beneficiary for any life insurance policies or financial accounts that name your ex-spouse as beneficiary.
Along with divorce often comes remarriage. Many remarriages result in blended families, with one or both spouses bringing children from prior relationships. In order to ensure that one’s children inherit the assets they had prior to their remarriage, many couples set up their estate plans so that if they die first, their children will receive what is rightfully theirs.
Thank you the authors at Legacy Law Center for providing their insight on estate planning.