The idea behind estate planning can be confusing, especially for those who are just beginning their first draft. You may have heard the term “estate planning” used by friends or family members before, but don’t know exactly what it means to establish one yourself. Those who need help while writing an estate plan, are encouraged to visit with an estate planning lawyer in Phoenix, AZ. But for now, here is some information to hopefully help simplify and answer questions about what estate planning is and does.
What is a last will and testament?
People who want to give their possessions away to certain loved ones after they pass on, must create a last will and testament. If you die without a will, your assets will be distributed based on state law. This may mean that your loved ones get less money or assets that you would have preferred, and it causes additional stress during their time of grief.
How can I prevent disagreements between loved ones if I become incapacitated?
If you want to decrease the chances of your cherished loved ones arguing in the event of your incapacitation, then it is essential that you establish a living will. A living will is a document that lists what your health preferences would be if you are diagnosed with a terminal illness or an accident happens which results in a permanent state of vegetation.
For instance, you can indicate if you want life-prolonging treatment to be performed, and at what point you would rather pass on. If something happens to you unexpectedly, your loved ones can read over your living will and abide by your directions.
Can I include funeral arrangements in my living will?
Yes, by leaving instructions for funeral arrangements your loved ones can simply take on doing what you have asked without needing to decide amongst one another. It can take the pressure off of choosing funeral services, particularly during such a fragile time. Your lawyer can go over the paperwork with you to ensure that it is legally binding and no crucial details are left out. Things to consider including regarding funeral arrangements in your living will include:
- Whether you want cremation or a burial
- The contact information of the funeral home or cemetery
- Details about what kind of grave marker you want
- Details about your preferred ceremony
But isn’t estate planning only for wealthy people?
No, estate planning is something everyone should do, whether they have substantial assets or not. And the fact is, you probably have more assets that you realize. Even items that aren’t of monetary value but high sentimentality can be passed down to those who you know would cherish it. You don’t need to have hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars in the bank to benefit from an estate plan.
Without proper legal documentation, your assets may be distributed by the court system. Knowing this generally motivates people to create an estate plan, because they don’t want the government to have any say in how their legacy is passed onto future generations.
Thanks to Kamper Estrada, LLP for their insight into estate planning and a simplified overview.