Effective Estate Planning Guidance
At Berry & McGehee Law Firm, we recognize that each family is unique. We customize our client’s estate plan to fit their individual and family needs.
First and foremost, we strongly encourage our clients to first cover their basic needs – which includes several documents that they need during their lifetimes. We also work with our clients to create documents that protect their assets and loved ones after their lifetimes.
Specify Your Future Care
Unless you specify the terms of your future medical, legal and financial care, other people could decide what happens. Important personal matters might rest in the hands of the court or a doctor who knows nothing about your preferences.
The most basic of estate planning documents for lifetime benefits include:
- General durable (financial) power of attorney: A financial power of attorney allows you to choose who you want to handle your financial, legal and business matters when you are unable to do so yourself.
- Power of attorney for health care: Much like a financial power of attorney, a power of attorney for health care allows you to choose who you want to make health care decisions when you are incapacitated. Your medical power of attorney should address the scope of the health care decision-making power you are giving your agent.
- A living will directive: This directive allows you to choose certain medical treatments in advance. For example, life-prolonging treatment, such as a ventilator, and artificially provided nutrition and fluids, such as feeding tubes, may be part of your document.
Without the right protection, a guardianship proceeding would likely be necessary in order to allow someone to manage your affairs on your behalf. This process is highly complex, and the potential guardian may not be the person you would have chosen. Therefore, your estate plan is important to settle your care in advance.
Planning For Inheritance And Financial Goals
There are a number of vehicles that a client might use to transfer the assets to their family members or other beneficiaries, including:
- A will: In your will, you can choose the distribution of your property upon death. You can also select the person or entity that you want to handle the administration of your estate. If you have minor children, you can nominate one or more guardians to care for them. If you own a business, you may also want to appoint someone to handle your business affairs.
- Trusts: There are many different types of trusts, for different situations. For example, a trust can hold assets for minor children until they become of age to manage inheritance. Trusts are also often used for specific purposes, such as special needs/disability planning or long-term care planning.
- Lifetime gifts: We assist our clients in arranging the best time and best method of making lifetime gifts so that the gifts coordinate with our clients’ overall estate plans.
If you do not have a will, the Kentucky intestacy laws determine how the court will distribute your property in probate. However, the laws might not distribute your property how you wish, especially if you are married and want to give all of your property to your spouse.