A Guide to Estate Planning

No one wants to think about their own death, but if you want to make it easier on your loved ones—or if you just want to make sure your assets go where you prefer—it’s necessary. Estate planning in Park Hills, MO is the best way to ensure your interests are protected now and after your death. There are many things you can do with estate planning documents, including designating guardians for minor children, appointing medical and financial powers of attorney and setting up charitable trusts to create your own legacy. Working with a good attorney can make it easier to navigate these issues. Here’s a brief guide to the key aspects of estate planning.

Wills and trusts

Most people are familiar with a will, which instructs an executor how to distribute property and care for minor children after your death. Your will is usually read after your death, which is why you should keep a copy of your end-of-life directives in a separate place.

Any asset distributed by a will must go through probate. Probate is a legal process in which an estate is administered, and assets are distributed to beneficiaries. The executor has to present the will to the court within 30 days of the writer’s (also known as the testator’s) death. Then they will have the legal authority to make decisions on behalf of the estate.

Trusts do not have to go through probate, which often makes them preferable for transferring major assets. The assets can be put into trust before or after your death, and they may be useful when taking taxes or Medicare planning into account.

Tax considerations

Depending on how much your estate is worth, estate taxes can significantly affect its value. Smart planning can lessen your beneficiaries’ tax liability. For example, married couples can put their assets into a trust and name each other as beneficiaries. You can freeze your estate, which locks in the current value of your property before you die, so any growth in value goes to another person. Finally, you might consider giving to charitable organizations while you’re alive, which reduces the size of your estate.

Appointing an executor and powers of attorney

Your estate planning attorney will ask you whom you’d like to appoint as your executor and/or powers of attorney. These can be the same person or separate, but the key is to pick someone you trust. The executor will be responsible for finding and valuing all of your assets, then ensuring that they’re distributed appropriately. They’ll also need to pay the estate’s debts, including taxes.

A medical power of attorney is someone authorized to make medical decisions on your behalf when you’re incapacitated, and a financial power of attorney is someone who can make financial decisions when you’re incapacitated or otherwise unavailable (e.g., traveling). As you can see, it’s crucial to pick someone who will make the decisions you’d prefer.

For help with estate planning in Park Hills, MO, call Maynard & Joyce, LLC today to arrange a consultation.