If you’re taking the proactive step of protecting your loved ones well after you’ve passed away, congratulations. Estate planning is one of the best ways to ensure that your loved ones won’t have to face a legal mess once you’re gone. Here are a few common estate planning documents that you may want to consider.
1. Last Will and Testament
Your will gives you the power to decide what is in the best interest of your loved ones after you’re gone. A will helps you determine what will happen to your possessions with financial or sentimental value and names a Personal Representative (Executor), who will be in charge of following your directions. You can also use your will to create instructions for your funeral provisions.
2. Revocable Living Trust
A Revocable Living Trust allows you to pass on assets to heirs so they can avoid potentially expensive and lengthy probate proceedings. You can name a spouse, family member, or attorney as your trustee that will manage and distribute your property after your death. Unlike a Will, a Trust can be used to hold and handle assets if you become incapacitated. (Although the purpose of a Revocable Living Trust is to handle assets and avoid probate, and not to avoid estate or inheritance taxes, some types of Trust can also help with estate tax savings. )
4. Financial Durable Power of Attorney
A Financial Power of Attorney document authorizes someone to handle financial and legal matters on your behalf if you are unable to. You can set up your power of attorney up to become effective only if you are incapacitated or they can be effective immediately if you want to use it for convenience, like when you are going to be away for an extended period of time or just want a family member to take over those duties. It’s important to note that a Financial Power of Attorney only applies to those specific matters and transactions that are outlined in the document, and it is important to have this done by a qualified attorney.
5. Health Care Power of Attorney and Advance Care Directive
This document states who will make your medical decisions when you are unable and what your wishes are for medical and end-of-life care should you be unable to make those decisions yourself. You can outline exactly what you would like to happen should you be incapacitated, such as the use of a ventilator or feeding tube. You can even designate someone to make decisions for you if you are unable to. Health Care Powers of Attorney and Advance Directives can be gotten without cost by going to the Maryland Attorney General’s website, from many hospitals, or from some senior centers. (Here at DK Rus Law we do them for free when a client is doing their Will and Financial Power of Attorney.)
Plan Your Estate with DK Rus Law
Estate planning isn’t always easy, and you will want a reputable estate planning attorney to help you create comprehensive estate documents. That’s why people work with D. Kathleen Rus. With over 25 years of experience helping people like you plan their estate, D. Kathleen Rus can help you create the documents you need to ensure that you, your loved ones, and your estate are protected.
Contact us now to request a free consultation.