Thursday, June 1, 2017

What is an Estate Plan?

By Allison Harvey, Attorney, A. L. Harvey Law, PLC

The biggest misconception is that estate planning is only for the wealthy. Everyone has an estate. If you own a home, car, other real estate property, bank accounts, investments, life insurance, furniture, personal belongings you have an “estate” and need a plan when you’re not able to make decisions. To ensure that your estate is protected and that your wishes are carried out, you need to provide instructions stating who you want to receive your properties, what you want them to receive, and when they are to receive it.
The following tools are some of those that make up an estate plan. You may want all in your plan or just one. Read along to better understand each tool.
A revocable trust is an agreement between the person who creates the trust (you) and the person who manages the trust assets (generally you while you are alive). The trust agreement will dictate who will manage your assets when you no longer can, where your assets will go upon your death and how your beneficiaries will receive the assets. The trust can also designate when you want your children to receive the property held in trust so they don’t receive it all at age 18. A properly drafted revocable trust should avoid the costly and lengthy probate process and allows your beneficiaries to receive assets much quicker. Generally speaking, a trust of this nature allows for changes during your lifetime.
A will is a document that designates who will receive your assets upon your death. It also can designate the guardian of your children. This does not allow you to avoid probate. A pour over will is a tool that is used in conjunction with your revocable trust. It is different than a standard will. A pour over will designates that all property not held in trust will pour into your trust upon your death. This type of will helps to show that you intended your property to be held in trust and can assist in avoiding probate.
An advanced healthcare directive provides your doctors with instruction about what type of health decisions you would want made if you are incapacitated and unable to do it yourself. It also provides authorization to another individual to make decisions on your behalf in accordance with the instructions in

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