Estate and Legacy Planning
Your estate and legacy plan will be drafted with your personal goals in mind; it is important to remember that each family’s situation and needs are unique. Your plan will reflect both your current life circumstances and near term goals, as well as longer term goals and unforeseen events. In addition, most documents can be updated as needs or family circumstances change.


Most estate and legacy plans include a health care advance directive, a durable general power of attorney, a will and a trust. Some plans include additional documents relevant to the specific needs of each client.


A Health Care Advance Directive allows you to appoint an agent to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are not able to do so yourself. It authorizes specific instructions regarding end of life care, nominates a Guardian to make non-medical decisions for you if needed, and specifies your preferences regarding final arrangements.


A Durable General Power of Attorney gives authority to your named agent to make financial decisions, manage your assets and apply for benefits on your behalf if you are unable to do so.


A Will is essential to every estate plan. It nominates a Guardian for minor children and designates how assets will be distributed after your death to your chosen beneficiaries. Without one, the court determines who will raise your children, state law dictates who receives your assets (contrary to popular belief, this is generally not only your spouse), and your estate will pay both administrator fees and probate court costs.


A Revocable Living Trust allows you to maintain control of your assets while planning for possible future incapacity. It is most often used to preserve privacy and to avoid the probate process, saving your family a great deal of time and expense. You decide the age(s) at which your beneficiaries will receive shares, which are protected from creditors and future ex-spouses. Trusts can also address specific concerns in second or subsequent marriages and beneficiary issues such as addiction, mental illness, gambling, or overspending. Some trusts are also used to reduce or eliminate federal estate taxes and others hold assets for a disabled beneficiary while protecting public assistance benefits.


Later Life/Elder Law


It is important to plan ahead for the possibility that you will no longer be able to care for yourself. When approaching your golden years, take advantage of extended care planning or Medicaid pre-planning while you can. If you become incapacitated, your loved ones will have to petition the court to be able to make decisions regarding your care and finances. Execute legal documents before they are needed to protect your future and ease the burden on your family members. With proper planning, involvement with the probate court can be completely avoided.


Probate


The probate process can be complex and overwhelming for family members, particularly while grieving the loss of a loved one at the same time. Loftus Law Offices, PLLC explains the steps involved in the burdensome probate process and assists executors and administrators with their designated fiduciary duties.