Everyone has assets, no matter how slight, and there are many ways to protect these assets and ensure that your last wishes are carried out. Learn why estate planning is vital and how a qualified estate planning attorney can play an important role in taking the right steps to protect your assets.

The Elements of an Estate

There are a number of different steps and approaches you can take to plan your estate, including living trusts, basic wills, medical powers-of-attorney, living wills, financial powers-of-attorney and more. Your estate planning attorney will help you decide which is the best road to take, and help you to make the proper choices along the way.

The Basic Will

Everyone has heard of a will. It’s essentially a document that lets you lay out exactly how you want your assets distributed upon your death. It can be changed as long as you’re alive and of sound mind, which means you can adjust it right up until the moment that you can’t. Without such a document, any assets you own will have to be distributed by the state, which can involve a long and expensive probate process, which includes fees that can cost up to 7% of the value of the estate.

The Living Trust

A living trust is a document that you create in conjunction with your attorney, wherein you designate one or several trustees, as well as beneficiaries. The trustee administers the assets within the trust, and the beneficiary gets to draw upon them. This version of planning allows you to protect your assets from taxes, and also allows you to limit the way the assets are distributed, sometimes in an effort to keep them from being wasted.

Living Will and Medical Power of Attorney

A living will is a statement of what you want to happen should you become incapacitated and unable to make healthcare decisions. The most well-known type is a DNR, or “do not resuscitate,” which says you don’t want to be put on life support, but it can cover any health directives you want.

Closely associated is the medical power of attorney, which gives someone else the right to make healthcare decisions on your behalf. The two are not necessarily mutually-exclusive; a power of attorney can augment a living will, allowing someone to make decisions that weren’t already covered.

Financial Power of Attorney

A financial power of attorney allows for a trusted loved one to access your finances and ensure your bills are paid when necessary. This makes sure your debts can be paid and allows a second set of eyes to watch over your financial well-being.

The Estate Planning Attorney

An estate planning attorney is a vital part of your end-of-life planning. They can help you to get through the complex legalities of these important documents, avoid critical mistakes and protect your assets and your heirs in the future as well as saving money and time in probate and estate tax issues. If you’re in Cuyahoga County and need help in this area, call Stano Law today!