Estate planning is a simple and consistent way to ensure that your loved ones will be protected not only now, but also in the future. This is important whether you are rich or poor. A Muskogee estate planning attorney can help you craft an estate plan that makes sense for you and your family.
What is Estate Planning?
Estate planning can be simple or complex depending on your needs. Whether this means a simple will or a complex trust depends entirely on your circumstances; no two families are the same.
In all estate planning, legal documents are drawn up and signed that affect your assets both during your lifetime and after your death.
Will or Trust?
The most basic decision lies in whether to use or will or a trust to transfer assets to your beneficiaries after your death. Though trusts are often used to keep assets from being handled in probate after your death, there are circumstances in which a simple will is best. Having a will means that after your death, some or all of your assets — depending on how they are held — will be subject to probate.
For people with few assets that are subject to probate, a will is sufficient to protect their loved ones. A court oversees all the steps in a probate of those assets. This can be helpful in cases where family dynamics are poor, but it can also lead to protracted litigation. This is an area in which your estate planning attorney can best advise you.
When a simple will is sufficient, care needs to be taken in the choosing of an executor and to make sure that all intended beneficiaries are included. If a guardian is needed, one can be named in the will. A trust can also be set up in a will if needed.
Other estate planning tools include durable powers of attorney. These powers can be for financial or medical purposes. You name a person to take care of financial or medical decisions if you are unable to do so. This person becomes your attorney-in-fact.
Kinds of Trusts
The most common trust is the revocable trust. Assets are moved into the trust after it is formed, and the trust remains revocable for the duration of a trustee’s lifetime. This keeps assets from probate and protects them from lawsuits.
An irrevocable trust is less common but can be a useful tool in asset protection. In an irrevocable trust, once the assets are moved into the trust, the trust itself owns them and the trustee cannot take those assets back individually. These assets are effectively out of reach of the trustee and out of reach of other creditors. This can be helpful when a trustee is in need of long-term care, which normally requires the trustee to spend from their assets.
A special needs trust can be very useful when either the trustee or a beneficiary needs special care. This can include money set aside for that care. It also allows money to be used for that care without disqualifying that beneficiary from receiving certain other governmental benefits such as Medicaid, SSI, and housing assistance. These trusts must be set up carefully to comply with legal requirements.
Your estate planning requires special attention. While we never like to think about the end of our lives, planning can make a huge difference and can bring peace of mind to us and to our loved ones.
Talk to a Skilled Muskogee Estate Lawyer Today
Work with a dedicated estate lawyer in Muskogee, Oklahoma to ensure that your wishes are translated into results for your heirs.
If you’re ready to begin the estate planning process or you have changes to make in an existing estate plan, contact a Muskogee estate planning attorney at 918-884-7774.