Not many people want to think about death. Still, death is inevitable, and we need to plan for it. Have you ever seen a movie or TV show where everyone in the family is fighting over someone’s estate? Estate planning is the best way to take care of your loved ones and make sure they’re not fighting over your belongings when you’re gone.
To understand the importance of estate planning, let’s look at some common estate planning questions.
Common Estate Planning Questions Probate Lawyers Hear
Whether clients have been proactive in their planning or families come to us for help through the probate process after a loved one passes away unexpectedly, here are some of the most common questions we hear as probate attorneys:
1. What Is Estate Planning and Why Is It Necessary?
Estate planning isn’t as complicated as you may think. Essentially, it is the process of creating several legal documents to protect your personal property and financial assets when you are gone. Regardless of your age, estate planning is essential if you want to make sure your assets are distributed according to your wishes when you pass away.
2. What Is the Difference Between a Will and a Trust?
Your last will and testament, commonly referred to as your will, is a legally binding document that explicitly states how you want your estate to be distributed after you pass away. A trust is a document that requires a third party to handle your estate on behalf of your beneficiaries. Trusts are typically prepared for minor children who cannot make legal decisions on their own at the time of your passing.
3. What Is Probate?
Probate is a court procedure that legally distributes your assets to your heirs and beneficiaries. There are several steps to the probate process. Probate begins when your loved one petitions the court. Steps in the process include authenticating the will, determining the value of your assets, paying bills and creditors, and distributing your assets to your beneficiaries. In the absence of a will, the probate process will handle the distribution of your assets based on the legal guidelines set by your state.
4. Can I Avoid Probate
Probate is a long and tedious process that costs money. Many people don’t want to subject their loved ones to the probate process, so they take steps to avoid probate altogether. This includes setting up financial accounts that aren’t subject to probate and creating trusts that cover your assets.
5. What Is a Power of Attorney?
A power of attorney is a legal document. It gives a third party the authority to manage your affairs on your behalf if you no longer have the capacity to handle things on your own. Before you name a power of attorney, it’s essential to sit down and help that person to understand your values and wishes clearly.
Talk to an Experienced Probate Attorney for Help with Your Estate Planning
Estate planning is vital at all ages, not just in your retirement years. If you have questions, talk to a Lancaster probate attorney to help you through the estate planning process. Contact Derryberry & Associates today for a free consultation.