A few moments of organization now can save confusion and anguish later

Having an effective estate plan is one of the most important things you can do for your family. To start the planning process, begin with Presidential Wealth Management, a firm that has your interests at heart.

It may be the subject matter—death, incapacity, and taxes—that causes us to avoid estate planning. However, the fact is that no matter what your age or how much wealth you’ve accumulated, you need an estate plan to protect yourself, your loved ones and your assets—both now, while you’re still active, as well as after your death. Before visiting with your attorney, you need a basic understanding of the documents they may recommend for your plan.

Important estate planning documents

Will

A will simply provides instructions for distributing your assets to your family and other beneficiaries upon your death. Your attorney can customize its provisions to meet your needs. You appoint a personal representative (also known as an “executor”) to distribute your assets. If you have minor children, you can designate a guardian for them. To be effective, a will must be filed in probate court. Probate is a judicial process for managing your assets if you become incapacitated and for transferring your assets in an orderly fashion when you die. The court oversees payment of liabilities and the distribution of assets. Generally, your personal representative will need to employ an attorney. Because a will does not take effect until you die, it cannot provide for management of your assets if you become incapacitated.

Disposition of Last Remains

It is surprising how many problems are created when your loved ones don’t know your funeral preferences. One child may want a big funeral while another may want a simple, intimate service. Leaving this document removes the argument. Better yet, have a pre-paid funeral plan in place – but be sure someone has a copy so it will be used.

Durable Power of Attorney

A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document in which you name another person to act on your behalf. This person is called your agent or attorney-in-fact. You can give your appointed agent broad or limited management powers. You should choose this person carefully because he or she will generally be able to sell, invest and spend your assets.

A traditional power of attorney terminates upon your disability or death. However, a durable power of attorney will continue during incapacity to provide a financial management safety net. A durable power of attorney terminates upon your death.

Healthcare Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney for health care authorizes someone to make medical decisions for you in the event you are unable to do so yourself. This document and a living will (see below) can be invaluable for avoiding family conflicts and possible court intervention if you should become unable to make your own health care decisions.

Living Will

A living will (or health care directive) expresses your intentions regarding the use of life-prolonging medicinal treatments. It expresses what you want; it does not give anyone else the authority to speak for you.

Revocable Living Trust

There are many different types of trusts with different purposes, each accomplishing a variety of goals. A revocable living trust is one type of trust often used in an estate plan.  By transferring assets into a revocable trust, you can provide for continued management of your financial affairs during your lifetime (when you’re incapacitated, for example), at your death and even for generations to come. Your revocable living trust lets trust assets avoid probate and reduces the chance that personal information will become part of public records.

Every revocable trust has three important components. The grantor (or settlor)—generally you— creates the trust and transfers assets to it. The beneficiary(ies)—often you and your family—receive the income and/or principal according to your trust’s terms. The third component—a trustee who could be you, a family member or a corporate trustee—manages the trust assets.

You can change a revocable trust’s provisions at any time during your life. If you act as your own trustee, you continue to manage your investments and financial affairs. In this case, your account might be titled “(Your Name), Trustee of the (Your Name) Revocable Living Trust Dated (Date). Because this legal entity exists beyond your death, property titled in the trust does not need to pass through probate.

Once you have executed the appropriate documents for your planning needs, you should review them periodically to ensure they remain up-to-date given any significant changes.

Revocable Living Trust

Legacy Guide is the premiere site for the most important things in life related to your legacy, your family, your property, and your assets. Legacy Guide was designed to help individuals organize and simplify all of the things that encompass their life so that they, and those that are most important to them, will have all of the information and resources they will need in one easy to use location. When completed, you, and anyone you designate, will have access to all of your important documents such as wills, trusts, power of attorneys, financial account statements, property deeds, title, instructions, etc. You also can upload photos, documents, or anything related to your family ancestry, legacy, and life story that can be carried on for generations. Additionally, anything of importance to you can be included through our easy to use system. There are many life events that are extremely complicated and costly when not prepared for properly. We provide instructions on how to handle important life situations when they arise to make it easier for you and your loved ones to deal with certain events.  Legacy Guide reduces the complexity and saves money by providing a comprehensive, easy to understand system that coordinates and organizes the things that are most important to you and your family. Our site was created from years of experience in working with families and understanding what is most important to them. We believe in the value of family and providing them with resources that will enhance their lives. You can access Legacy Guide here.

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