The Estate Planning Process
The typical estate planning process will go accordingly:
- Appoint a health care agent: A health care agent is responsible for communicating your medical needs should you be unable to make medical decisions for yourself. This is typically your spouse or a close family member. You may also want to establish a Health Care Power of Attorney (POA), which outlines what a health care agent can and cannot do when making medical decisions on your behalf.
- Appoint a financial agent: This is established by creating a durable financial POA, which enables a designated agent to manage an individual’s financial matters.
- Compile a list of assets: Assets include property, stocks and bonds, retirement accounts, life insurance policies, motor vehicles, trademarks, household inventory, and business entities.
- Decide who will become a beneficiary: A beneficiary is an individual who will inherit a portion of the estate after the principal’s death.
- Execute a living will or trust: Wills and trusts cover different areas of the principal’s estate. A last will and testament is a legal document executed by the principal that names who will be an executor. The will provides details about beneficiaries and how the estate will be distributed after the principal dies. After the principal’s death, the will needs to be reviewed by the probate court to ensure it is valid. A Revocable Living Trust is managed by a trustee and beneficiaries are also included in the document. However, unlike a will, beneficiaries do not have to wait for probate court to confirm the validity of the trust.
It is helpful to consult with an experienced attorney for support if you have questions and concerns. Additionally, you may not be familiar with how the law impacts your estate. Our Charlotte estate planning attorney can provide you with that information.
What Is the Difference Between a Will and a Trust?
A will is a legal document that establishes how someone’s assets will be distributed after death. An executor of the estate will be chosen to ensure these wishes are upheld. A trust allows an individual to establish a will and appoint someone to manage their assets if he/she becomes incapacitated or dies.