Estate planning is the legal process through which you can decide what is done with your estate after you die, including who will inherit your money, car, real estate, and checking and savings accounts. Estate planning is a critical part of preparing for your family’s future.

The process of determining what to do with your estate can be a daunting task if you don’t understand how it works. In this article, we will go over the main parts of an estate plan so you can prepare for your family’s future.

4 Documents for Estate Planning

A lawyer signs paperwork necessary for estate planning

There are several estate planning documents in the most basic plans in Utah. They are:

  • Wills
  • Trusts
  • Powers of attorney
  • Health care directives (living wills)

These documents go through a legal process, so you will need to find a trusted estate planning lawyer near you to help ensure your last wishes are carried out. Continue reading to learn more about the purpose, benefits, and drawbacks of each document.

1. Wills

A will is a necessary part of any estate plan. It sets forth your basic wishes for your property and names a personal representative or guardian for any minor children you may have. 

Deciding who inherits your property is one of the biggest advantages of a will. Without a will, your property will pass to your heirs through “intestate succession,” which means you’ll have no say in who receives what. It is determined by state laws, with no exception. Even if you make your wishes known, your property will be subject to state laws without an official will.

Many of the concerns associated with a will, such as the possibility of someone challenging your will or the failure to fully address tax concerns, can be eliminated by planning properly. Finding a capable estate planning lawyer will help you ensure there are no major issues.

2. Trusts

It is possible to have both a trust and a will. Unlike wills, which only take effect after you have died, a trust is active the day you sign it. Through a trust, your property can be distributed to someone else before your death, whereas a will only applies afterward.

A trust allows you to place assets under the care of a trustee, who you appoint. The trustee holds the property until the time you have set when it is given to the beneficiary. Unlike a will, a trust does not have to go through probate. If you want to save your heirs from the added pain of settling wills and trusts in probate court, ensure your estate plan is well written.

A revocable trust simplifies the transfer of your assets, helps you avoid issues with probate, and can be changed while you are alive.

3. Powers of Attorney

A power of attorney gives a person of your choice the authority to make decisions on your behalf if you become unable to do so. You can authorize the person of your choice, known as the attorney-in-fact, to make decisions for your property, finances, or medical care. 

A power of attorney is useful for someone who no longer wants to make certain decisions or doesn’t have the power to do so. If needed, separate powers of attorney can be drafted for different matters.

4. Healthcare Directives

A living will, known as a healthcare directive in Utah, sets forth your wishes for major healthcare decisions if you cannot communicate or make decisions for yourself. Taking time to make decisions in advance can save loved ones from having to make painful decisions on your behalf later on.

Talk with a doctor to understand which medical decisions you might need to make. Once you have a solid grasp of how you would like your medical treatment handled, a lawyer can help you fill out the legal forms detailing your wishes.

Planning Your Future Through Esplin | Weight

Estate planning is a big step in preparing for your future and guaranteeing your family is taken care of. You will need to evaluate your estate, determine how you want to divide it between your family members, and go through the legal process to ensure your plan is in place.

A knowledgeable lawyer can help you make a complete plan that covers all of your needs. At Esplin | Weight, we are committed to making recommendations for our clients that reflect their personal needs. Taking the time to think about your estate planning needs can help you gain peace of mind and avoid future confusion within your family, and we are here to help you make sure your last wishes are carried out.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation.