About Estate Planning
Whether we are rich or poor, old or young, we all need an estate plan for asset protection, wealth preservation, and for peace of mind that our wishes will be followed should we become incapacitated.
Usually the least expensive estate plan in the long run is a Living Trust package. A Living Trust package is a series of documents including a Living Revocable Trust, a Pour-over will, a Durable Power of Attorney, a Medical Power of Attorney, a Mental Health Power of Attorney, and a Living Will. Each of these documents has a particular purpose.
The advantages of a Living Trust include the ease of transferring property without the need for probate, and with minimal attorney’s fees and other costs. Larger estates can minimize or eliminate estate taxes. A Living Trust will provide for you should you become incapacitated and otherwise need a guardian or a conservator. It also allows for the distribution of property to younger members of your family as well as the guardianship for your children.
Another form of an estate plan is composed of a will, a Living will, a Durable Power of Attorney, a Mental Health Power of Attorney, and a Health Care Power of Attorney. This is a more basic, traditional estate plan; it is less costly and will be adequate for most people. This type of estate plan, however, usually requires probate (although often probate can be delayed until the death of the last surviving spouse). The disadvantages of a probated estate are the attorney’s fees and court costs involved and the time necessary to transfer the property.
There are many other estate planning tools utilized by our knowledgeable Phoenix estate planning lawyers, including Beneficiary Deeds, Joint Tenancy Deeds, Pay on Death Accounts, Medical Power of Attorney, and Financial Power of Attorney.
Many people first become acquainted with the idea of guardianship or conservatorship when a parent or close relative becomes disabled and the family discovers they are unable to cash checks or transact other urgent business on behalf of the incapacitated person. Guardianships and conservatorships are court orders that require the participation of the disabled person’s physician, a court-appointed attorney, a court investigator and, of course, the family’s lawyer. Costs can be high.
With advance planning many of these problems can be avoided. Alternatives include the judicious use of a General Durable Power of Attorney, joint ownership of bank and investment accounts, or a revocable Living Trust. To avoid a court proceeding one must act while they still have the capacity to do so. That is why timing is so important. A properly constructed estate plan, it is good for the rest of your life, unless you wish to change it or are involved in a divorce. Disputes may arise following the death of a family member. The Phoenix probate and estate administration lawyers at Platt & Westby, P.C., have solved many of these through the use of a family settlement agreement to achieve a fair division of assets, even when a will, or Arizona law might have produced an unfair or unintended result.
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