Is Your Plan in Place?
Approximately 55% of Americans do not have a Last Will and Testament. Some Americans believe that they do not need a Will, perhaps because they do not believe they have enough assets to justify obtaining one. However, Estate Planning is more than deciding who will receive our assets when the time comes. Estate Planning also covers instructions for how we wan our bodies treated if we become incapacitated, who will care for our minor children in the event of our deaths, and how we would like to be remembered during end of life celebrations. A comprehensive Estate Plan is much like owning a vehicle - it requires maintenance and a good mechanic to make sure you can get to where you want to go. Below are some of the Estate Planning Tools Barsotti & Manley, PLLC, can provide for you.
Wills and Codicils
A Will is the backbone to any Estate Plan. A Codicil is an amendment to an existing Will. Depending on the size of your Estate, a Will may be relatively simple or it may require complex language. Individuals who die without a Will are considered "intestate," and the Commonwealth of Kentucky dictates where your possessions will go. Our attorneys have administered estates through the court system (known as probate) in which the decedent did not have a Will, and many stumbling blocks can be avoided by obtaining this document.
Living Wills and Powers of Attorney
Estate Planning encompasses more than planning for what comes after death. In many cases, a health emergency may lead to a situation in which we are unable to communicate with our doctors about how we want to be treated. Moreover, even though we may be incapacitated, many of us will have ongoing financial obligations will continue to be due and owing, such as utility bills, mortgages, and insurance payments. Living Wills provide instructions to our healthcare providers about how to treat our incapacitation, and Powers of Attorney appoint trusted individuals to carry out financial transactions in our name.
Trusts are flexible tools that give an individual a great amount of control over how their assets are used, both while the person is alive and after they have died. Trusts are different than Wills because Wills only come into effect once the individual dies, whereas Trusts become effective as soon as the instrument is signed. Trust can be used to shield assets from creditors, to avoid the probate process entirely, and to lower estate tax liability. They can even be used to fund the maintenance of our pets if we become incapacitated or die.