Estate

While having legal status is the foundation to attaining the "American Dream", it is only the first step in building the life you desire for your family. To plan your estate is to optimize your hard work, ensure your loved ones are properly cared for, and to create your legacy. 

Real Estate

Most Americans' home is their most valuable asset.

Upon your passing, your home and other real estate owned by you becomes properties of your estate automatically. If you do not have a valid will or another estate planning instrument in place, the default estate law of the state where your property is located determines how and to whom your property is transferred. 

Real Estate/Property Agreements

Estate refers to all properties owned by the decease at the time of passing. Passing without a valid will is referred to as intestate. When you died intestate, default state laws determining how your estate is divided up among your heirs that survived you. 

If you do not want state laws to determine who gets your most treasured possessions, you need to plan your estate today. 

WILLS

Last Will and Testament

A will is a legal document that outlines asset inheritance and distribution after a person's death. However, specific laws may limit the ability to disinherit a spouse or children. So, a will must comply with state laws while reflecting personal wishes.


A will governs assets in the deceased's probate estate. Assets that are assigned to a designated beneficiary by joint ownership or another instrument are not a part of the probate estate. 

In addition to asset distribution, a will can address other important objectives, such as appointing a guardian for minor children, establishing trusts, designating an executor, and providing for individuals not covered by intestacy laws.

 

If someone dies without a will (intestate), the state's laws determine property inheritance, usually prioritizing spouses and children, followed by parents, and lastly, other family members. However, this may not align with personal wishes. Creating a will allows customization and control over distribution and personal decisions. 

 

Different types of will serve various purposes, such as simple wills for outright distribution, testamentary trust wills for asset management and protection, or pour-over wills to integrate with existing trusts.


A clear and comprehensive will can help avoid potential disputes among family members over the distribution of your assets. A well-structured will can also help minimize the amount of estate tax that might be due on the inheritance.


Choosing the right will depend on individual circumstances and goals, and professional legal advice is recommended. At Plan Life Law, we provide comprehensive support throughout the complex estate planning process for you and your family. We ensure all legal requirements are met and your will is valid and enforceable.

TRUST

Plan Estate with a Trust

A trust is a legal arrangement where a trustee (fiduciary) holds property or assets on behalf of beneficiaries. 


Trusts can be arranged in many ways and can specify exactly how and when the assets pass to the beneficiaries. Trusts are not only for the wealthy. They play a crucial role in managing assets for minors or individuals with special needs, providing flexible asset distribution based on their needs and maturity. Trusts also offer wealth and assets control, providing privacy, and potentially minimizing estate taxes. Additionally, trusts can offer a degree of protection against creditors or legal claims (lawsuits). 



There are five types of trusts:


1. Revocable Trusts: Also known as a living trust, a revocable trust can be altered or canceled by the trust maker during their lifetime. The assets in the trust pass directly to the beneficiaries upon the trust maker's death, avoiding probate.


2. Irrevocable Trusts: Once established, an irrevocable trust cannot be altered or canceled without the consent of the beneficiary. The assets in an irrevocable trust are not considered part of the estate, offering protection from estate taxes and creditors.


3. Charitable Trusts: These trusts are set up to benefit a particular charity or the public. They offer tax benefits for the trust maker.


4. Special Needs Trusts: These trusts are designed for a person who receives government benefits so as not to disqualify the beneficiary from such assistance.


5. Testamentary Trusts: These trusts are outlined in a will and are created upon the trust maker's death, providing a level of control over the distribution of the estate.


Trusts are a versatile tool for estate planning, however, the rules governing trusts can be complex, and it's advisable to seek professional advice when setting up a trust. We simplify the trust-making process at Plan Life Law, PLLC.

Power of Attorney Document

A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document granting a fiduciary the authority to make decisions on behalf of another person, the principal. Types of POA include general, limited, durable, and springing, each with different power and conditions. A general POA grants broad decision-making powers, while a limited POA specifies certain tasks or matters. A durable POA remains effective even if the principal becomes incapacitated. A springing POA only takes effect under specific conditions. 


A POA is important for appointing a trusted representative to manage financial matters. It empowers individuals to plan for the future and ensure their affairs are handled by someone they trust. The document is used to sign contracts, handle real estate transactions, or manage bank accounts. It provides convenience for remote transactions and prepares for situations when you can't act due to absence or incapacity.

Advance Directive

Advance Directive or Living Will Document

An advance directive, otherwise known as a living will or healthcare power of attorney, is a written document that empowers patients to make decisions about their medical care. 

Individuals use advance directives to specify desired treatments and appoint a decision maker in the case of a medical emergency where they are unable to communicate their healthcare preferences. It may express life-sustaining and end-of-life treatments for terminal illnesses. Directives are meant to ensure that an individual's healthcare wishes are respected and followed. Additionally, having an advance directive in place can alleviate the burden on family members who may struggle with making difficult medical decisions on behalf of their loved ones.

The laws regarding advance directives differ by jurisdiction, but they generally require certain standards for execution. Advance directives typically require the individual to be of sound mind and capable of understanding the implications of the document. Witnesses or a notary may be required to ensure the document's validity.

Enhanced Life Estate Deed

Lady Bird Deed

A Lady Bird Deed is a specific type of estate deed also known as an Enhanced Life Estate Deed. It allows real estate property owners to transfer property during their life while retaining control up until their passing. It is commonly used to avoid probate and for Medicaid planning. However, only five states (FL, TX, MI, VT, WV) recognize Lady Bird Deeds

Probate is a court process to finalize the deceased's estate. It includes validating the will or the application of intestacy laws if there is no will, appointing an executor/representative, and ensuring assets are distributed according to the will or state laws.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only.  Information on this website may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information. Contact our office for current information.  This website contains links to other third-party websites.  Such links are only for the convenience of site visitors.