Estate Planning, Trusts, Wills

Estate planning can be one of the most important things a person can do for their family. Planning what will happen to your estate upon your passing will ensure that your final property and health care wishes are honored, and that loved ones are provided for in your absence. Though often overlooked or put off in favor of more immediate concerns, a comprehensive estate plan can resolve a number of legal questions and family disputes that arise whenever anyone dies: What is the state of the decedent’s financial affairs? What real and personal property do they own? Who gets what? Does a personal guardian need to be appointed to care for minor children? How much tax will need to be paid in order to transfer property ownership? What funeral arrangements are appropriate?

What is an “Estate”?

Your “estate” consists of all property owned by you at the time of your death. Such property includes Bank Accounts, Stocks, Bonds, Securities, Life Insurance Policies, Real Estate, and personal property, such as jewelry, automobiles and artwork.

How Can an Estate Plan Help?

Regardless of your age, or the size and complexity of your estate, an estate plan is important for everyone. An estate plan can help you appoint family members and other loved ones to receive your property after your death. It will also ensure that your property will be transferred to those you have identified, as quickly and easily as possible. Often times an estate plan can help you minimize the amount of taxes that will need to be paid in order for your property to pass to your beneficiaries after your death. In certain circumstances, an estate plan can avoid the time and costs associated with the probate process by utilizing estate planning devices like a revocable living trust. Other estate planning documents can dictate the kinds of life-prolonging medical care you wish to receive should you be incapable to make your wishes known by using a Patient Advocate and Physician Directive.

What is a Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney gives permission to a person called your agent to take legal actions on your behalf. It basically creates a carbon copy of you for all legal and contractual purposes. A power of attorney is an agreement which is set up between you, called the principal, and another person, called your agent, to act for you in an agreed upon manner. Some of the uses of a power of attorney may include banking, investing, insurance, or real estate. It can give you peace of mind knowing that your agent can make your decisions for you if you were unable to do so yourself regarding most things with a legal significance.

Understanding the estate plan options that are right for you can be a complex undertaking. The attorneys at Stewart and Bruss, P.C. can help you identify your estate planning needs and recognize potential solutions.