Estate planning involves more than drawing up your will, trust and other documents. It involves making crucial decisions about who will handle your affairs not only after you're gone, but if you become incapacitated to the point where you're unable to make decisions for yourself or take care of your personal and financial obligations.
A will is one of the most important documents in an estate plan. However, there are some things you shouldn't or legally can't include in a will. In some cases, that's because they need to be addressed in other documents or by making other arrangements. In other cases, they are illegal and therefore unenforceable.
You're finally taking the step of putting an estate plan in place. You hope you'll be around for decades to come, but you never know. You've worked hard your entire adult life and have considerable assets to show for all of that hard work. You want your children to inherit that money.
One of the most common reasons that people challenge a will or other estate plan documents after a person's death is "undue influence." This is when someone coerces (mentally, physically and/or morally) a testator to the point where that person isn't designating the dispersion of their assets as they would if they were exercising their own free will.
If you and your spouse are headed for divorce and your relationship has devolved into conflict, distrust and perhaps even some hate, one of your first instincts may be to remove him or her entirely from all of your estate planning documents. You don't want your estranged spouse having any say over your finances and certainly not over your medical care should you become incapacitated. You may not want your soon-to-be ex to get a penny of your money if you die.
If you have an adult child or another family member with a physical or mental disability that impacts their ability to care for themselves, you want to ensure that they are provided for once you're no longer around. Many people create special needs trusts for this purpose. Here's how it works.
If you have a child who you need to establish guardianship rights for in your will, it's important to do so correctly through the courts. Guardianship can help in a number of ways, including protecting your children if you or your child's other parent passes away.
Millennials, or the generation born roughly between 1981 and the early 2000s, are reaching ages that suggest they should start estate planning now. Many in this age range are starting families, and some have a great number of assets.
Giving someone power of attorney (POA) is something you can't take lightly. If you're the person who has been given that responsibility, it's important to understand what you can and cannot do. It's also vital to know when a person can or cannot be appointed to the position.
Are you starting to think about estate planning, Medicaid planning and long-term care? It's important to do as much planning in advance as you can.