Oftentimes it is very difficult to think about let alone, plan for what happens after death. It is often assumed that not having many assets means that your estate is straightforward and you don’t need a plan. Almost 50 percent of adults don’t have an estate plan because they don’t understand its purpose or often think they don’t need one. Estate Planning enables you to create a roadmap for your future. It provides you with clear direction on how you want your affairs handled while you are still living as well as how your legacy is fulfilled after you are gone. The benefits of developing an estate plan are far-reaching. You can state your provisions for division of assets among your chosen beneficiaries; designate a person you trust to manage your financial and medical affairs if you are rendered physically or mentally incapable of doing so yourself as well as appoint a guardian for your minor children and much more.
An estate plan should be considered as a gift to your loved ones both during your lifetime and after you have passed. It enables your family to act on your behalf in the event that you are incapacitated so they are comfortable knowing that their actions are in accordance with your wishes. It also enables you to express your wishes on how you wish for any assets to be divided and your loved ones don’t have to do that for you. An estate plan is comparable to an insurance policy. Something you have just in case something happens. An insurance policy may or may not need be cashed in if you get into an accident. But an estate plan will definitely be enforced. Contrary to popular belief, estate planning in Arizona is not just reserved for the rich and the elderly. The truth is, everyone should have an estate plan. Estate planning is fundamentally necessary to safeguard your future regardless of your wealth, age, health, marriage or parental status. The primary reason people should have an estate plan is so they can ensure their assets are inherited by the people or charities they select rather than the people their state of residence selects. There is a law called the law of interstate succession in every state.
This is the legal name given to statutes that set forth a priority plan that governs who inherits property of a resident of the state who dies without a will or an estate plan. Having an estate plan should be a no brainer because everybody chooses to have their property go to their desired heirs rather than hope that their state of residence’s plan will coincidentally give the assets to the same people. Over 70% of American adults do not have any sort of will or estate plan in place. Failure to participate in advance planning can make a bad situation far worse. For example, if someone dies tomorrow without a will or estate plan, their estate would be subject to division according to Arizona’s laws of intestate succession. It means that their hard-earned assets accumulated over a lifetime may not go to the beneficiaries they would have preferred.
Without leaving clear instructions, your family and friends are left with many questions left unanswered, which could result in a bitter court battle over your estate. Nowadays, LGBT couples often encounter special circumstances in the event of an accident. Without a proper estate plan in place, a partner may be legally precluded from having a role in the decision-making of his or her loved one or even having access to his or her partner in the hospital. Having a comprehensive estate plan protects both partners in such a scenario. Even for pets Arizona State law allows you to create a special trust to provide the necessary funds for someone to care for them after your death. Having a pet trust prepared can give you the peace of mind knowing that your pet will be cared for according to your wishes.
Estate planning tools allow you to convey your wishes regarding the distribution of your assets, appoint trustworthy individuals to make financial and medical decisions for you during a time of incapacity and upon death, nominate guardians for minor children, designate caregivers for pets, and establish provisions for your end of life care. Having these documents in place creates peace of mind that surviving loved ones have the instruction they need to avoid unnecessary pain, uncertainty and conflict.
Estate planning services include:
- Last Will and Testament
- Durable Power of Attorney
- Health Care Power of Attorney
- Living Will
- Mental Health Care Power of Attorney
- Final Disposition Instructions
- Revocable Living Trust
- Irrevocable Trust
- Special Need Trust
- Parental Power of Attorney
- Domestic Partnership Agreement
- Prenuptial Agreement
An outstanding example of why everybody needs a comprehensive estate plan or at least a Healthcare Power of Attorney and a Living Will is the Terry Schiavo case. Terry did not have any such document and her family paid the price emotionally and financially that could have been better spent on something other than lawyers. According to facts of the case as found on Wikipedia, the Schiavo case involved 14 appeals and numerous motions, petitions, and hearings in the Florida courts; 5 suits in federal district court; there was Florida legislation struck down by the Supreme Court of Florida; a subpoena by a Congressional committee to qualify Schiavo for witness protection; federal legislation (the Palm Sunday Compromise); and 4 denials of certiorari from the Supreme Court of the United States.
You should make a smart move and do yourself a big favor and create a comprehensive estate plan so your family doesn’t have to burn money going through court to get an order to deal with your medical care or authorize the doctors to pull the plug. Estate planning however, in the end, is a personal matter. The term family is a modern term and it can mean various things to different individuals. From the traditional family to the non-traditional family, with children or without children (biological, step-children, or adopted children), not all families fall under the cookie-cutter classification that the law seeks to cover or protect. As such, creating a custom estate plan with an experienced estate planning attorney can be one of the most important things you do for your loved ones.
Effective estate planning and administration is more than a financial matter. It is a way to protect the people you love while honoring the unique relationship you have with them. Though end-of-life planning is a sensitive subject that unfortunately too many people avoid, failing to make the proper arrangements can have a terrible impact on your family. There will come a time when either you or your family may require authoritative instructions on matters such as property distribution, medical treatment and child care. If you are looking to set up an estate plan then contact an experienced estate planning law firm such as KNOLLMILLER & ARENOFSKY, LLP today.