Estate planning can be stressful and difficult when looking into it for the first time. With so many different documents, it is easy to get overwhelmed during the process. With the variety of questions regarding estate planning, we do our best to answer the most common inquiries below.
What is Estate Planning?
Estate planning is the intentional strategy of how your assets, property, and investments are distributed after you pass away. The goal of every estate plan is to leave no stone unturned, ensuring that the distribution of your assets goes as smoothly as possible when the time comes.
This can take the form of establishing a trust or will, establishing powers of attorney, preparing guardianship, and making sure your trust is well-managed.
What Happens if I Die Without a Will?
If you die without a will, the laws established by the state of Kentucky will decide how your assets will be distributed. This typically includes the involvement of your spouse and children, and if neither of those categories apply, other family members. The state will devise a plan based on how the average person would disperse their assets, and there is no guarantee your own wishes will be considered during the process.
What is a Revocable Living Trust?
A revocable living trust can perform several of the functions that wills can, but with more flexibility. You can place as many or as few assets within the trust as you wish, and they can be distributed in any way that you deem fit. Living revocable trusts also have the ability to be amended throughout your lifetime to reflect any circumstances that happen to change.
What is the Power of Attorney?
The power of attorney is a legal document allowing someone else to make important decisions on your behalf in the event you become incapacitated. There are five main types of power of attorney:
- Simple power of attorney – the ability to make decisions on behalf of an individual while they are still alive and mentally competent that automatically expires when the principal passes away or becomes incapacitated
- Durable power of attorney – can perform the same functions as a simple power of attorney, but remains active when the principal becomes incapacitated
- Springing power of attorney – is only activated when an individual becomes incapacitated, usually by authorization of a doctor, and automatically expires when the principal passes or is no longer incapacitated
- Healthcare/medical power of attorney – gives the designated agent the ability to make decisions on medical care for the principal, within the parameters set by the principal, should the principal become incapacitated
- Business affairs/financial power of attorney – authorizes the designated agent to make business or financial decisions, within the parameters set by the principal, should the principal become incapacitated
What is Probate?
Probate is the legal process in which a will is reviewed to determine its validity, assess and appraise assets, and make sure the deceased individual’s wishes are upheld. Each form of estate planning has to go through some type of probate and has the potential to become difficult. If a family member feels as though they were unfairly left out of the will, they may elect to challenge its validity and complicate the process for all parties involved.
What does a Trustee Do?
A trustee is an individual that has been appointed to manage the assets within a trust, take care of any tax filings for the trust, and distribute the assets according to the terms set by the trustor. The advantage of having professional trust administration is that they have the legal obligation to prioritize the health of the trust and its beneficiaries, instead of adhering to any personal beliefs or family disputes.
Planning Your Estate
We understand that the beginning of your estate planning journey can seem overwhelming. That’s why we are committed to providing compassionate and experienced legal services to help you formulate the best plan for you and your family.
If you would like to learn more about planning your estate, do not hesitate to contact us today through our website or give us a call at (270) 200-6326 to schedule a consultation.