Many people put off making an estate plan because it may seem like a depressing topic. It can be hard to think about your final days with your loved ones. However, when people put a plan in place while they are in a calm position, they can better communicate their wishes. If a crisis does strike, loved ones are relieved that these wishes have been documented. An elder law attorney can explain some of the reasons why an estate plan is so important.
To Avoid Probate
Probate is the process that the court goes through in order to settle a deceased person’s final affairs. It is often a long and expensive process, commonly taking over a year. Creditors must be paid before any assets can be distributed. This means that when a person’s estate goes through probate, his or her beneficiaries must often wait a long time before being able to receive their inheritance. Additionally, probate is a public matter. With an estate plan, probate can often be avoided completely.
To Make a Plan in Case of Incapacitation
While many people think of a will and death when they think of estate planning, an estate plan can also provide protection in the event that a person becomes incapacitated. An estate plan can put in writing a person’s wishes. It can give someone the power to handle financial affairs or make important health care decisions if the person is unable to do these things on his or her own.
Some of the important documents to consider for the purposes of protecting yourself in the event of incapacitation include:
- Power of attorney. this document allows you to give someone else the right to handle your financial affairs and conduct financial transactions on your behalf.
- Health care proxy. this designation gives someone else the right to make medical decisions on your behalf, contract for medical services, admit or discharge you from a medical facility and to have administered or withdrawn medication.
- Living will. this document allows you to establish your desires in the event that you have a terminal condition or you are permanently unconscious. You can determine while you are well whether or not you want to be hooked onto respiratory machines, receive CPR, be tube fed or receive IV fluids in these instances.
An elder law attorney can review the options available to you and establish documents that set out your final wishes on these important topics.
To Protect Assets
An estate plan also helps to protect assets. It can help ensure that life insurance and other monies are available to assist the surviving members of the family. Additionally, it can include provisions related to any businesses that the person owns and name a successor for the business in the event of death or incapacitation.
To Protect Children
An estate plan also helps to protect children. A will can name a guardian so that the court knows a parent’s wishes. Additionally, a will and other estate planning tools can protect children from a previous marriage. A trust can be set up to protect a child with special needs in a way that does not disqualify him or her from receiving government benefits.
To Carry Out Your Wishes
An estate plan makes sure that a person’s final wishes are recorded for prosperity. It tells loved ones how you want things handled. It describes what property different people will receive. Additionally, it avoids the possibility of unintended recipients receiving assets as may occur if a person dies without a will.
Estate Planning in Maryland
The lawyers at Hammond and Associates can help you through every step of estate planning. Give our team a call today at 301-861-4555 or fill out a contact form today.