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What is Estate Planning?

It is the process a person must take to make sure someone they trust will have the ability to manage that person’s estate that if they are incapacitated during the person’s life and at and after death.

Living Will vs. Last Will? 

If you are wondering whether you need a last will, a living will or both. This is an easy answer, because just about everyone should have both.

Living wills, are also known as advance directives, these legal documents provide instructions in the event you become seriously ill or incapacitated and you are unable to communicate your preferences yourself  (This is Medical Procedures Only)

A last will and testament, or will, is a legal document that typically provides instructions on what should happen to your assets in the event of your death.

What is the difference between a will and a living trust?

Living Trust also known as (revocable living trusts), these and wills both allow you to name beneficiaries for your property. Beyond that, they are useful for different purposes. Most people use living trusts to avoid probate. But living trusts are more complicated to make, and you can’t use a living trust to name an executor or guardians for your children. You need a will to do those things.

What Living Trusts and Wills Cannot Do?

Reduce estate taxes. Neither wills nor can living trusts help you reduce estate tax, but most estates will not owe estate tax.

Leave money to pets. Pets cannot own property, so you cannot leave money to your pets. You can use your will to leave your pets to a trusted caretaker, or you can create a pet trust. But if you try to leave your pet property, that property will end up in your residuary estate.

Leave final wishes. Although it is permissible to leave funeral instructions and other final wishes in your will (never in a living trust), it’s better to leave them in a separate document.

Leave passwords for online accounts. After you die, your executor will appreciate being able to access your online accounts, computers and other devices. However, do not leave this information in your will or living trust. Instead, create a separate document and keep it in a secure place with your other estate planning documents.

What is probate?

Probate is a legal process that takes place after someone dies. It includes:

-proving in court that a deceased person’s will is valid (usually a routine matter)

-identifying and inventorying the deceased person’s property

-having the property appraised

-paying debts and taxes, and

-distributing the remaining property as the will (or state law, if there’s no will) directs.

What Is a Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney is a legal document that gives someone you choose the power to act in your place. In case you ever become mentally incapacitated, you’ll need what are known as “durable” powers of attorney for medical care and finances. A durable power of attorney simply means that the document stays in effect if you become incapacitated and unable to handle matters on your own. (Ordinary, or “nondurable,” powers of attorney automatically end if the person who makes them loses mental capacity.)

What is a Will and What it Does?

Most people use a will to leave instructions about what should happen to their property after they die.   However, you can also use a will to

  • Name an executor.
  • Name guardians for children and their property.
  • Decide how debts and taxes will be paid.
  • Provide for pets.
  • Serve as a backup to a living trust.

You  shouldn’t  try to use a will to:

  • Put conditions on your gifts
  • Leave instructions for final arrangements.
  • Leave property for your pet.
  • Make arrangements for money or property that will be left another way. (Property in a trust or property for which you’ve named a pay-on-death beneficiary.)
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