We have our first guest post. It’s from The Eastman Law Firm – Overland Park Estate Planning Attorneys
What is estate planning? In simple terms, it is the process of determining what type of legacy that you would like to leave. This can be very simple to very complex. It also reaches from the fiscal – your home, bank accounts, retirement and savings – to the more sentimental items of life, such as personal possessions, charitable gifts, etc.
Last Will and Testament
When most people think about estate planning, the first thing that they think about it is a last will and testament. That’s because these documents have been around for centuries and are widely understood by the general populace. In many respects, they are very simple documents. They have to be made by a person of sound mind that is “of age” in the jurisdiction in which the will is made (age 18).
The only other thing that is needed is that they are witnessed by two (sometimes 3) people. It’s good practice to get them notarized so that they are “self-proving” in a court of law. What that means is that you don’t have to get the witnesses to show up and testify that their signatures are accurate.
Power of Attorney
Another standard document in estate planning is a Power of Attorney. A Power of Attorney allows someone else to act on your behalf. These are incredibly powerful documents because the person that you name as your attorney-in-fact gets all of the same rights that you would have if you were there yourself. Thus, if you name a child as your attorney-in-fact, that child could go out and sell all of your possessions, take all the money out of your bank accounts and go to Las Vegas for a spending spree. What’s more, it would be perfectly legal. That is why you want to be careful in whom you name as your attorney.
Revocable Living Trust
A revocable living trust is a cornerstone estate planning document. It is typically done in lieu of a will. What it does is avoid the probate process. It can be set up to pass all of your possessions quickly and without any probing eyes. Further, you can name how those possessions are passed and when your heirs are to receive those possessions (like at age 25, 30 or 40 instead of age 18). Finally, you can set up a trust to take care of your children and name who you want to take care of them, as well as who you want to take care of their inheritance.
Estate planning is a process, which includes as a core part of that process the drafting of a last will and testament. In addition, there are Powers of Attorney that are a main part of the estate planning process. Finally, a revocable living trust is used in place of a will so that probate can be avoided (including the time and expense of attorneys) as well as you having more control over the plan.