What Is Estate Planning?
An estate plan comprises several important legal documents such as a will, trust, power of attorney and living will, among others, that communicate a person’s wishes for distributing their assets and property when they pass away. These legal documents provide a means to safeguard a person’s assets while they are alive as well as to provide for their family and other chosen beneficiaries’ stability in the future.
Do I Really Need An Estate Plan If I Do Not Own Property?
Yes. Creating an estate plan will not only help your family understand what your wishes are concerning property distribution when you pass away but also empower them to act on your behalf while you are alive. Your estate planning documents communicate what your wishes are regarding health care treatment as well as grant authority to a trusted agent to act in your stead for your financial affairs if you become incapacitated.
Estate planning documents may vary, depending on a person’s individual circumstances and their family’s needs. Generally, most estate plans include a will, a financial power of attorney and a living will, also known as an advance health care directive. An estate plan may also include a trust for addressing more complex property and asset ownership.
What Happens If I Do Not Have An Estate Plan?
If you do not create an estate plan, your family will not know what your wishes are for your health care if you suddenly become incapacitated. Even if they do know your wishes, they will not have the legal authority to speak to your physicians to ensure your wishes are followed. Also, they will not be able to handle your financial affairs and may have to go through a costly court process to gain the necessary legal authority to do so. With no will or trust, Mississippi’s probate laws will determine who your assets will be distributed to upon your death. This may lead to more expenses, frustration and family conflict that could have been avoided with estate planning documents.
Can’t I Simply Use Online Forms?
Some people download estate planning forms from the internet. However, without proper guidance from an experienced attorney, these instruments may not hold up if the necessary legal language is not included in them. Worse yet, a will or a trust may be challenged in probate court when the time comes.
What Is A Power Of Attorney?
A power of attorney is a legal document that allows a person to designate an agent to ensure their financial duties can be handled for them in case they become incapacitated while alive and cannot speak for themselves.
What Is A Living Will?
A living will is also known as an advanced health care directive. In this legal instrument, a person indicates their wishes for end-of-life medical treatment, including expressing whether they want to be on life support systems. An agent is designated in a living will to have the legal authority to speak on a person’s behalf to ensure their wishes are followed if they are unable to speak for themselves.
When Is It Best To Create An Estate Plan?
The time is now if you have not created an estate plan. You may update your estate plan at any time you wish, especially when significant life changes occur such as the birth or death of a family member. If you have recently divorced, it is essential to create or update your estate plan to protect your best interests in your new chapter of life. Suzanne Baker-Steele can help you create or update your estate plan.
Where Can I Get An Estate Plan?
The law office of Suzanne Baker-Steele, Attorney At Law, P.L.L.C., has been providing legal advocacy for estate planning for more than three decades. We can help you. Email us to schedule a consultation to learn more about the importance of estate planning. You may also call us in Biloxi at 228-206-2055.