Estate Planning

Estate planning is planning for the  accumulation, preservation and distribution of an individual’s or family’s property and planning for one’s future care. Estate planning ensure that one’s wishes are carried out. Dean Law Office, LLC can assist you in drafting and implementing a well-designed estate plan.  Such a plan provides a sense of security and comfort that one’s wishes about one’s caregivers and distribution of assets will be carried out. 

The basic estate planning documents an individual should have are:  a will or trust, a durable power of attorney, a health care directive and a health care power of attorney.  A beneficiary deed or transfer on death deed may also be useful in implementing one’s estate plan. Up

Wills
A will is a document that spells out how, when and to whom assets are distributed after your death. In the case of a parent with a minor child, the will can also designate the parent’s wishes as to who should be guardian and conservator of a minor child.

In drafting your will, you need to consider other assets such as life insurance policies, financial accounts and retirement savings (IRAs, pensions, 401(k) plans). These assets may have beneficiary designations that impact your estate plan.

A well-drafted will can reduce stress and grieving for loved ones, can disburse assets to loved ones in a orderly manner, establish trusts and name trustees, minimize administrative fees for your estate, name guardians for minor children, designate who will receive assets and make charitable gifts.

Durable Powers of Attorney
A durable power of attorney allows you to appoint someone else (called the attorney-in-fact or agent) to manage financial affairs and assets should you be unable to do so or need help in managing. Read More

Living Will or Health Care Directive
A living will, also known as a health care directive or medical directive, instructs your health care providers as to the type of medical care you do or do not desire should you be unable to communicate such decisions. By drafting a health care directive you can specify your preferences regarding the extent of life-sustaining measures in case you are no longer capable of making decisions regarding health care. 

Health Care Power of Attorney
A health care power of attorney (sometimes called a healthcare proxy) allows someone else you appoint (your agent) to make medical decisions for you if you are not capable of making such decision.

Trusts
Trusts are classified as revocable or irrevocable and living or testamentary.  

By establishing a revocable trust, you have the ability to change or terminate the trust.  Income during your lifetime is generally paid to the you and you are free to sell assets.  If all assets you own are placed in the trust, you will avoid probate which can be time-consuming, expensive, and is matter of public record.  

An irrevocable trust cannot be modified or terminated without the consent of the beneficiaries.

A living trust is a trust establishing during one’s lifetime. 

A testamentary trust is a trust established at one’s death. 

A special needs trust is designed to provide for someone who is receiving government benefits or may in the future receive government benefits.

A trust can be extremely useful if the designated beneficiary is not good at handling finances. A trustee can manage assets and creditors can be prevented from having access to assets held in an trust.

The Estate Planning Process
Make a list of assets: bank accounts, real estate, retirement accounts, life insurance policies, etc.  Play close attention to how the asset is titled.  If you hold property in joint tenancy with a right of survivorship that provision will trump any provision in a will. Read More

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Margaret Dean 816-753-3100