The biggest mistake in estate planning is failing to make a plan. Maybe you’re overwhelmed at the thought or think you don’t have enough assets to worry about. The truth is that a solid estate plan is beneficial no matter the size of the estate or age of the person making the plan. At Mark Harford Law, we’re here to make estate planning simple and accessible for everyone. Keep reading to learn the basics of forming an estate plan and how our attorneys can help.
How Do You Start Planning Your Estate?
Estate planning is much simpler when you break it into tiny pieces. Start by listing your assets, including property, investment accounts, and other belongings. You may wish to seek professional help from an estate planning lawyer who can answer your questions and offer guidance. Next, it’s time to start creating the documents necessary for an estate plan.
Creating a Last Will and Testament is one of the most important components of planning an estate. A will is a legal document that puts you in control of how your assets and property are distributed. It also allows you to establish guardianship for your children should you pass away or become incapacitated. Failing to create a will leaves your property up to the state to decide how your property is distributed. Your assets will go through Missouri probate, an often lengthy and expensive process.
Power of Attorney for Health and Finances
There are several types of Power of Attorneys (POAs), and while they aren’t necessary for everyone, can be beneficial in many ways. Many types of POAs can be tricky, but it’s important to remember that they can be revoked at any time. An estate planning lawyer can help you form the most secure and effective POAs.
Durable Power of Attorney
A Durable POA allows someone you designate to act on your behalf regarding financial matters. That includes paying bills and handling other financial situations for you if you are ill, incapacitated, or pass away.
Health Care Directive
A Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care or Health Care Directive appoints a relative, friend, or loved one to make medical decisions for you if you’re unable to make them on your own. You can also make a plan for how you want your end of life care to be handled in these documents.
Trusts distribute your property or assets to beneficiaries as you wish. There are different types of trusts, and all can be used to protect your assets in case of your death. Trusts can be revocable or irrevocable, and you should consult with an expert to decide which type of trust works best for your estate plans. Whether you want your assets to be passed on to beneficiaries, charity, or another group, forming a trust is another important step in avoiding probate.
Reviewing Your Estate Plan
It’s always a good idea to review your estate plan every few years. You may wish to revise part of the plan or change beneficiaries. In general, you should review your estate plan either every 3-5 years or whenever there’s a significant change in your assets. As you did at the beginning of your estate planning process, you should take inventory of your assets and property. Go over everything with your attorney and make any changes as necessary to keep your wishes up to date.
Estate Planning Attorneys in MO
Planning your estate doesn’t have to be difficult. At Mark Harford Law, we have years of experience assisting clients with all steps of the estate planning process. Our job is to make estate planning work for you, giving you and your loved ones peace of mind. Contact us today to schedule a consultation to learn about all your estate planning options and how we can help.