Planning your legacy involves more than just writing a will. It includes other essential documents, such as an advanced directive and power of attorney, that detail personal choices and your wishes regarding the distribution of assets.
It also helps you avoid probate, minimize potential tax impacts, and ensure your wishes are fulfilled. An experienced estate planning lawyer at DCZ Legal can provide expert guidance to secure your legacy.
Establishing a Special Needs Trust
As a legacy planning tool, a will can help you articulate your wishes and safeguard your assets after death. However, these legal instruments can be complicated, so seeking professional guidance and regularly updating your plan as circumstances change is crucial. These processes can minimize conflict and protect your family’s future when properly executed.
One of the most important aspects of a comprehensive estate plan is setting up a special needs trust (SNT). These trusts can provide much-needed financial resources for your disabled loved ones after you pass away. An SNT can supplement government assistance programs and help beneficiaries live a more comfortable lifestyle without sacrificing the quality of their care. An experienced estate planning lawyers can assist you with creating an SNT and ensuring that it complies with federal and state requirements.
Many people need help with deciding how to distribute their estate. A Brooklyn asset protection lawyer can help you avoid acrimony and infighting by including clear instructions in your will about what you would like to happen with each of your assets. It can consist of a specific list of items, milestones you hope your beneficiary will achieve, and a particular standard of living you would like them to enjoy. By discussing these things with your heirs while you’re alive, you can manage their expectations and explain why certain assets are allocated differently than others.
Naming a Guardian for Your Children
You spend much time and energy admiring your child’s triumphs: riding a two-wheeler without training wheels, mastering tennis, crushing a spelling bee. And though it’s not a pleasant topic, you must consider who would raise your children if you were no longer around.
The first step in the process is naming a guardian in your will. It’s a good idea to have several candidates, and it can help to have a family lawyer assist you. You should choose someone who can provide for your children and will likely be willing to do so for the rest of their lives. Raising your children is expensive, and you may need to provide funds through a trust or life insurance to ensure they can maintain their current lifestyle.
It’s also important to name one person, not a couple. If both individuals are called, you’ll need to discuss the possibility of divorce or other issues that could arise.
Finally, if you want your children to stay together, state this in your will. It will prevent them from being separated in the event of your death and help preserve your legacy. It’s also a good idea to specify where you want your children to live. It will help them avoid moving to a new town or school district in the event of your death, which can cause a lot of emotional stress.
Creating a Power of Attorney
Creating a power of attorney (POA) enables you to empower a third party to make decisions on your behalf. This person is known as your agent or attorney-in-fact, and you can grant them broad or limited authority, depending on your needs and the type of POA you create. You can also establish a durable POA that continues to be effective after your death or a springing or non-durable POA that only comes into effect when you are incapacitated.
Selecting your agent carefully is an important part of the process, as this person will be responsible for ensuring that your health care and financial affairs are managed correctly should you become incapacitated. Choose someone you trust who can fulfill your wishes faithfully, even in conflict. Additionally, it is a good idea to include language in your POA that requires your agent to regularly report actions to another person, such as your accountant or attorney.
With a POA, your family could go through court proceedings and a lengthy probate process to manage your estate and care for you. A POA can help avoid these costly, uncertain, and public proceedings by allowing you to choose your caregivers and set up structures that efficiently manage your financial assets, real estate, and personal property after your death.
Correcting Titles and Beneficiary Designations
Many people need to think more about the beneficiary designations they complete on financial accounts or life insurance policies. However, these can significantly impact how an estate plan functions after death. Beneficiary designations take priority over what is in a will or trust and can result in assets being distributed to someone other than the intended recipient.
How you title your property and investments also matters. It can determine tax consequences, who controls an asset (and how quickly), whether it is subject to creditors, and who receives the proceeds upon your death. An experienced estate planning attorney can help ensure that your titling and beneficiary designations are consistent with the rest of your plan.
When interviewing an estate planning lawyer, listen carefully to their answers and determine if they are someone you can work with. You may be discussing personal family details, so you must have a good rapport and understand each other.
You should review your beneficiary designations regularly and after any significant life event. Changes in your family structure, marriage or divorce, birth of children, and even retirement are reasons to update your beneficiary list. It is also good to name backup beneficiaries if your primary beneficiary dies before you do. Consider designating a charity as a contingent beneficiary.