We should all take the time to have an effective estate plan in place. In effect, you are controlling how your assets are handled after your death and to whom custody of your minor children shall pass. In addition, a good estate plan will also make allowances for unexpected incapacity in the event you become legally incompetent to manage your own affairs.
Making Your Own Decisions: Wills
There are specific steps you can take to ensure your wishes are carried out in the event of your incapacity or your death. Your will is the document that defines how your assets will be distributed after your death. A well-written will contains sufficient information regarding the persons who are entitled to specific assets including cash, bank accounts, heirlooms or other assets. A well-structured will leaves no room for argument after your death. Should you have minor children or a family member who has special needs, you may also specify your preferences as to their care after your death. If you die without a will, your estate may be distributed in accordance with state law, and a judge may decide who will take care of your children.
Revocable and Irrevocable Trusts: Further Asset Protection
One of the primary reasons some people prefer to include a trust agreement in their overall estate planning is to help avoid the probate process. A trust allows you to name a successor trustee who would take over the responsibility of handling your financial matters if you are incapacitated and distribution of your assets upon your death. There are two primary types of trusts, a revocable trust, which may be changed by you at any time, and an irrevocable trust, which may not be changed by you after you sign it. I will work with you to determine which type of trust agreement meets your specific needs.
Powers of Attorney and Living Wills: A Necessity for Potential Disability Planning
Many of us take the time to prepare for our death but unfortunately, most of us do not plan well for potential disability or for retirement. As part of your overall estate planning, I can help you with a number of documents which can help ensure your wishes are carried out in the event you become disabled. Some of these documents include:
- Powers of Attorney for Financial Decisions – appointing someone you trust to manage your financial affairs is important. The person you appoint should be someone who you feel confident will not abuse such power. This person would be responsible for paying your bills, managing your financial accounts and making your financial decisions. Financial powers of attorney can have a triggering event before they go into effect such as incapacity.
- Powers of Attorney for Health Care Decisions – should you fall victim to a serious accident that leaves you unable to communicate or you contract a life-threatening illness, it is important your family members know your wishes. A health care power of attorney can ensure your wishes are carried out. Another option is to establish a living will which can also contain directions for your care.
- Living Will – a living will can provide information to your loved ones as well as caregivers regarding your wishes in the event you are terminally ill and unable to communicate wishes for your care. This document will provide information on what measures you wish to be taken to keep you alive and also can provide information on your care should you be terminally ill or suffer a debilitating event such as a stroke.
Other Estate Planning Needs
I understand everyone has different needs and I understand not every estate plan is simple. Therefore I also offer a whole range of additional services including:
- Special Needs Planning
- Retirement Planning
- Charitable Giving Planning
- Trust Funding
At Denton Law, L.L.C., I provide a full range of estate planning services in Lawrence and Northeast Kansas, including the Kansas City metropolitan area. I also provide these services in the Denver, Colorado metropolitan area and Grand County, Colorado. Call us today at (720) 638-1605 for all your estate planning needs.