Hopkinsville Estate Planning Lawyers Helping Families Preserve Their Assets for Future Generations
You have worked hard all your life to build your wealth and ensure the prosperity of your loved ones. But when it comes to making plans for what should happen to your assets after you die, many find it easier to avoid the subject altogether. While it is easy to see why one may feel uncomfortable thinking about death and dying, this is a necessary topic to approach with your loved ones if you don’t want to leave significant asset distribution decisions up to a probate judge.
Attorney John Crow and his law firm have helped many families in Hopkinsville and Western Kentucky understand their options to preserve their wealth and enjoy life with peace of mind. Here are some basic ideas everyone should know about estate planning.
What Should Be Included in an Estate Plan?
Estate planning is the process of documenting your wishes for what should happen with your assets after you die. It can also include documentation that will ensure your wishes will be respected in case you become incapacitated or unable to make decisions due to an accident, disability, or medical condition.
At its most basic format, an estate plan includes a will or a trust, a durable power of attorney letter, beneficiary designations, guardianship designations, living will, and a healthcare power of attorney. This set of documents allows you to determine who will be receiving your assets, what they will be getting and when, who is authorized to make crucial decisions on your behalf in the event you are not able to speak for yourself, and who will take care of any children you may have who are minors.
An experienced Kentucky estate planning attorney can help you identify and prepare the necessary documents for your particular plan. The most important thing to consider is that by having an estate plan, you will spare your family of additional headaches and stress. Dealing with a sudden health crisis or losing a loved one is emotionally exhausting and can also become a source of stress and financial strain due to the lack of proper plans in place. Your estate plans not only include provisions to transfer assets seamlessly to your family members but also lists your wishes and financial plans in the event you need long-term care.
At What Age Should You Start Planning?
The truth is, only 42% of adults in the U.S. have some sort of estate plan in place. A common misconception is that one must wait until they are older, have amassed larger amounts of money, or any significant properties before an estate plan can be made. In reality, an estate plan is very important for anyone over 18 years of age—regardless of how much money they may have.
What changes is the extent and complexity of the estate plans required, depending on your age and financial status. A younger individual may simply have a will, a durable power of attorney (DPOA), and a healthcare power of attorney. Conversely, someone in their 60’s with considerable assets may want to have additional provisions in place, such as a revocable living trust, end-of-life plans, and significant tax planning. By simply taking time to have estate planning documents properly drafted and organized, anyone at any age can give themselves and their loved one’s peace of mind and control when it comes to making healthcare and financial decisions in a time of crisis, instead of leaving it all to a judge to decide what will happen to your assets and even to any minors you may have. It is never too early to start planning.
How Do I Get Started?
The first step to begin working on your estate plans is to create an inventory of everything you own, as well as of all your debts. This should include account numbers, contact information, and a list of any important financial advisors and accountants. You should also add copies of any important documents and keep it all in a safe location and provide a copy of this summary to the executor of your will.
Next, you should develop a contingency plan that will cover what should happen to your assets when you pass away and who can make decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated. You should also include provisions for any children, such as naming a guardian for any child under 18. Your plan also needs to have provisions to preserve your assets and minimize taxes while still covering end-of-life or extended care expenses.
How Can a Lawyer Help Protect My Family?
It is also recommended to find a skilled estate planning law firm to assist you in the process. While there are many free resources available for those who wish to take a “do-it-yourself” approach to their estate planning, an attorney can be a smart investment that may save you time and remove complexities by helping you craft a complete set of estate planning documents, while avoiding common errors that may cost you or your loved one’s extra time or money in the future.
An estate planning attorney can walk you through the state and federal laws that may affect your assets, provide legal advice, and ask you questions you may not have thought of on your own. If you are ready to begin planning for the future, call Crow Estate Planning and Probate, PLC today for an initial consultation at 270-569-0006. Rest assured knowing your family will be taken care of.