Simple Estate Planning Ideas:
We have outlined some simple estate planning ideas for you to follow.
Probate in court is what we are told will happen to someone after they die and who did not have a will or who did not perform proper estate planning.
The probate procedure in court can be distasteful because you are giving the authority to someone else to distribute the deceased’s assets.
You can avoid those horrors by following a few simple steps.
Omitting a lawyer when it comes to a question of Estate Planning may initially lower costs.
It’s true that legal advice can cost $250 per hour or more but as with everything else in life, you always get what you pay for.
Many experts recommend the thrifty online services like Nolo and LegalZoom for simple wills.
However, many lawyers warn that cheap wills will give you exactly what you pay for.
Depending on the complexity of your estate, it may be advisable to hire a lawyer who is specialized in trusts and estates.
The reasoning is that it will cost your loved ones whom you are leaving behind much more to unscramble a will later than it will if it was done correctly the first time.
Legal Aid/Local Bar Association
Call legal aid or your local bar association and tell them that you need help with a will and cannot afford to pay the going rate.
There is a distinct possibility that they should have a list of lawyers who have agreed to take estate planning cases and charge less than the going rate for the services you require.
University Law Students
Make some inquiries.
There may be a university sponsored clinic in your county where university third tear law students, supervised by a licensed attorney, can help you with estate planning.
They will help you with estate planning documents of all types, including trusts, wills, probate, power of attorney forms and living wills.
Those with modest means may be welcome to call any law school that has such a clinic and inquire if his/her documents can be handled for free by a competent law student.
By all means, do not feel guilty by using such services.
You are being used as an instrument whereby these law students can gain some practical experience before being dispatched to the “jungle”.
Go to Eldercare.gov or call 1800-677-1116. You will be advised about resources and local assistance for older adults and caregivers.
Go to legalhotlines.org to search for legal assistance programs by location.
Access lawhelp.org for information about free legal aid programs and forms for your state.
The website at findlegalhelp.org is the American Bar Association which provides a list of low-cost and pro bono programs in your area.
You can obtain access to free legal resources online at americanbar.org, nolo.com and seniorlaw.com.
Here you will find articles on topics such as how to avoid probate, creating wills, the importance of a power of attorney and the purpose of living will.
This will all be at no cost.
Five simple documents can save you up to $5k
If you can no longer make financial and medical decisions for yourself, the consequences can be disastrous.
Your family can amass $2,500 to $5,000 in court fees simply to appoint someone to make the call in your place.
Avoid the fees and enjoy peace of mind with having five important documents that are absolutely free:
Financial power of attorney.The last thing to worry about is unpaid bills. This legal document allows someone to manage your bank accounts and investments.
Medical power of attorney. This document allows you to appoint someone else to make medical decisions for you if it is not possible for you to do so yourself.
Do not Resuscitate (DNR) order. This form tells health care providers not to perform CPR in a medical emergency.
Health information release.Doctors always adhere to patient privacy. This form authorizes a certain person to discuss medical matters with a doctor.
Living will.This document explains your desire for medical care treatment. Some states combine both the Medical Power of Attorney and the Living Will into one document called an “Advance Health Care Directive”.
You can go to caringinfo.org and download your state specific form.
Four beneficiary errors you want to avoid:
The easiest way to avoid a long drawn-out probate is to name the beneficiaries on your accounts.This can save you thousands.
However, if you choose this route, watch out for these common mistakes:
1.Do not name the estate as your beneficiary.Be careful not to leave assets to your estate.
Do not allow the authorities to decide where they go especially with respect to retirement plans.
2.Don’t forget to update the forms.Your beneficiary wishes change with time depending on life’s circumstances so keep these forms updated.
3.Make sure you name a runner up. You may have bought an insurance policy many years ago and named prime beneficiary.
But what if this person dies before you?If you do not , in this case it will go to probate.
4.You must never use your will to change your beneficiaries.Let’s say you have a falling out with your brother.
You can’t exclude his place as your IRA beneficiary by writing it in your will. A will has no power over assets with a named beneficiary.
Do not try to give away these six things in a will:
Retirement plans, life insurance policies, payable on death accounts, investment bonds, joint ownership property and living trust assets.
Your digital world:
You may have digital assets.It’s important to keep track of your online accounts and passwords including important computer documents.
Choose someone to handle your digital estate.Leave clear instructions concerning passwords, accounts and photos where applicable.
The simplest way to record this information is on a spreadsheet or word document.
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