Estate planning requires the support and advice of an experienced estate planning attorney, to help with the processing of a person’s effects, including property, wealth, and even intellectual and non-tangible property. Once a person has chosen the estate planning attorney that suits one best, here are the issues that they need to discuss and address.
1. Asset Distribution: the most common document for asset distribution is the will. It is a legalized document which clearly states how a person’s assets will be divided among the heirs, in event of the owner’s death. An estate planning attorney makes sure that the will one designed consists of all the important aspects of distribution to avoid any disgruntled feelings among the survivors.
2. Asset Management for the Surviving Spouse and Others: in the will, designed with constant advice and legal counsel, the estate planning attorney may suggest forming a trust. This trust will hold one’s assets for the particular named person, say one’s spouse, and provide for them. Establishing a trust will also help decrease the tax burden on the survivors.
3. Guardianship of Dependents: the will can also help in ensuring the sustenance of any dependents, including minors, relatives with special needs, or mental or physical illness. In the will, a guardian can be assigned who will be entrusted with the responsibility of looking after one’s dependents. In the case of minors, this responsibility can be entrusted on the guardian till the children reach legal maturity. Appointed of a guardian should be done post discussion and counsel with the person one wish should take up the responsibility.
4. Charitable Giving: in the will, one can also designate assets they want should be given away to charity. Legal and tax counsel is important to ensure the gift is accepted and assigned as per the instructions in the will. Charity gifts include endowment, life insurance, property, financial accounts, stocks and shares, trusts and IRAs.
5. Healthcare Decisions: one of the most important issues that an estate planning attorney can help one with. This can involve everything, from medical procedures that one does not want, to whether one wants to be cremated or buried. Most of these decisions are taken considering the uncertainty of life, and how one may not be in a position to make decisions about how one want to be cared for. These advance directives are put down in a legal document, which is called the Living Will.
6. Power of attorney: this legal document puts a person in charge of making the decisions in one’s absence. Specific powers of attorney, like healthcare, financial, etc. can also be assigned to make sure not one person is burdened, or someone with specialized knowledge handles one’s assets after death. This is will help in solving any power struggles that the survivors may have. Power of attorney can also be mentioned in the Living Will, to entrust one responsible, most trusted person with complete authority over any decisions that may be required to be made.