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Theodore Roosevelt once said “It is not often that a man can make opportunities for himself. But he can put himself in such shape that when or if the opportunities come he is ready.” Similarly, we do not know what our future holds, but estate planning can help us be prepared for the road that lies ahead.
The goal of estate planning is to carry out your wishes regarding the disposition of your property after you die. It can be as simple as executing a Will or it might involve complicated issues, such as family farm preservation and tax planning. In either case, the importance of having Power of Attorney documents cannot be overstressed. Health care and finances often are important issues later in life, especially if you become incapacitated. Proper estate planning is not just about your property, it is also about your quality of life.
A Last Will and Testament is the most common document used to pass your property to your your heirs. The best reason to have a Will is that it allows you to decide how your property passes to your beneficiaries. For those who do not have a Will, the State in which you reside has laws of intestate (meaning not having a Will) succession, which will distribute your property for you. Your property may or may not be distributed the way you wanted it done, if you have no Will. In addition, having a Will relieves your loved ones of the burden of unnecessary court hearings and may eliminate family disagreements. Our Will package includes a Durable Power of Attorney, Healthcare Power of Attorney and Living Will.
There are many reasons why a person may want a Trust. Major reasons for a trust are to avoid the probate of your estate upon your death, paying less in Federal Estate taxes, controlling the amount and timing of money received by a beneficiary and holding real estate, especially for the purpose of allowing a child the opportunity to lease it until able to purchase. There are many ways that a Trust can control property after your death, limited only by your imagination. Anything you can express, we can draft in simple, easy to understand language. Special Needs Trusts are used to provide benefits to a disabled child who is receiving SSI or SSD benefits without disqualifying them from continuing to receive such benefits. Charitable Trusts are used to benefit charities, while providing the donor with certain tax benefits. Trusts can also hold property for grandchildren or other beneficiaries while distributing the income to children during their lifetimes. A Trust formed under Nebraska law can have perpetual existence to hold land or money for many generations. A prime consideration for a Trust is to avoid having a conservator appointed for you, if you become disabled in the future. A Trust may or may not benefit your situation. We can assess your objectives and situation and advise you what the best course of action will be for both you and your beneficiaries.
Durable Power of Attorney
A Durable Power of Attorney is used to allow someone to make business decisions for you while you are alive. Your attorney-in-fact will be able to pay bills from your checking account, collect money owed to you, sell real estate and a variety of other business activities. Further, your attorney-in-fact is first in line to appointed as your guardian or conservator if the need should arise. Keep in mind that the Durable Power of Attorney is only in effect while you are alive. After your death, your Personal Representative takes over as manager of your estate. This is why we suggest that your attorney-in-fact and your personal representative be the same person.
Healthcare Power of Attorney
The Healthcare Power of Attorney (HPOA) has become an essential document in estate planning. The HPOA, along with the Living Will, are often referred to as “advanced directives”. The HPOA allows someone to make health care decisions for you, but only if you can’t make that decision yourself. This could involve a life or death decision. In addition, a properly drafted HPOA contains provisions allowing your loved ones to obtain medical information about you. Imagine the feelings of a child who rushes to the hospital only to be told by a health care professional that they are not allowed to release any medical information to them about their own parent.
The Living Will is a directive to your doctor that if you are in a persistent vegetative state, being kept alive only by machines, then your doctor should unplug the machines and let you die a natural death. Our Living Will requires that two doctors have the same diagnosis that there is no hope for a recovery. It also provides that a No Code be issued only after the decision is made to unplug the machines.