Estate planning is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your loved ones. None of us can predict the future, but with the right estate planning documents, you can protect your loved ones after you’re gone and yourself in the event you need assistance. Many people assume that estate planning is only for wealthy individuals with lots of assets, but, in truth, everyone over 18 should have an estate plan. In some cases, estate plans consist of a will, power of attorney, and advance health care directive. Other estate plans are trust-based.
At Palmer & Slay, PLLC, we are committed to helping you create a well-structured and legally binding estate plan that is tailored to your unique circumstances. We have the legal experience to guide you through creating a will, trust, or other estate planning documents. We also have the legal knowledge to help you prepare for legal contingencies you may not have even considered. Every estate plan is unique so we take the time to listen to your goals and needs to create a plan that is effective, thorough, and customized to your particular circumstances. Contact our Brandon, Mississippi estate planning law firm today to schedule your initial consultation.
The Benefits of Estate Planning
The benefits of estate planning are numerous. Estate planning can help you minimize your tax liability now and in the future, establish a guardian for your minor children should you pass away before they have matured, and direct how you’d like to distribute your assets. By creating an estate plan, you are ensuring that your loved ones will be financially and legally protected after you pass away. Some estate plans are will-based and others are trust-based, but every estate plan’s main goal is to protect your assets and ensure that they are distributed according to your wishes. View our estate planning checklist for more information.
Writing a Will
Writing a last will and testament is an important part of estate planning. As the testator, you will state where you’d like your assets to be distributed after you pass away. Working with an experienced Mississippi estate planning lawyer is essential when creating your will. At Palmer & Slay, PLLC, we have an in-depth understanding of Mississippi estate planning laws, and we will help you create a will that protects your wishes and is legally valid.
After an individual dies, family members left behind sometimes dispute their loved one’s will. Individuals who have an interest in the decedent’s estate can challenge the will, also called “contesting” the will, for several reasons, such as:
- The will is not signed and witnessed properly;
- The testator lacked the mental capacity to execute the will; or
- Someone exerted undue influence or fraud over the testator.
When the skilled lawyers at Palmer & Slay, PLLC work with clients to create their last will and testament, we ensure that our clients properly execute their will to avoid potential will contest in the future. We also help clients update their last will and testament when they experience major life changes. Our legal team can review an existing will to ensure it is valid in Mississippi.
Creating a Trust in Mississippi
A trust is a legal document used to protect your assets in your estate plan. When you create a trust, you will need to transfer your property into the trust, according to its terms. Any assets that haven’t been transferred into a trust will be distributed by Mississippi law, or through your will. The types of trusts vary but include:
- Revocable living trusts
- Irrevocable trusts
- Asset protection trusts
- Trusts for minors
- Special needs trusts
- Marital trusts
- Spendthrift trusts
- Pet trusts
Avoiding the probate process is a key benefit of creating trust. When someone passes away with a last will and testament, their loved ones will need to go through the probate process, during which a Mississippi court will validate the will and distribute the property according to its terms. When using a trust, the assets can automatically transfer to the beneficiary outside of the probate court. Suppose you create a trust and name your adult child as the beneficiary. You can set up the terms of your trust so your child will automatically become the owner of your assets when you pass away without having to go through the probate process.
Trusts also allow people to protect their assets. When you create a trust, you appoint a trustee who will manage the trust for the beneficiary’s benefit. There are many different types of trusts, and they all serve different purposes for estate planning. Irrevocable trusts protect assets from creditors and potential lawsuits. Estate planners can also create life insurance trusts to protect the payouts from life insurance policies. Additionally, if you have an adult child with special needs, you can create a special needs trust that allows you to leave money to your child without affecting his or her eligibility for public benefits.
Durable Powers of Attorney & Estate Planning
Creating a durable power of attorney is an important part of estate planning in Mississippi. Should you become incapacitated and unable to make decisions for yourself, you will need someone who can access your financial information. When you create a durable power of attorney, you appoint a trusted friend or loved one who will act as your agent should you become incapacitated. Your agent will be able to make financial decisions on your behalf, pay your bills, and manage any property or other financial interests.
Healthcare Power of Attorney
Mississippi residents can create a healthcare power of attorney, allowing them to appoint a friend or loved one to make decisions about their medical care should they become unable to do so. Many people also create a living will, or advanced healthcare directive, that will inform their healthcare power of attorney about which medical treatments they want or do not want, including their wishes as to end-of-life decisions. Creating a healthcare power of attorney will help your loved ones know that they are making a choice you would have wanted, and it will benefit everyone involved.
Contact Our Brandon Estate Planning Lawyers
For help with wills, trusts, powers of attorney, or any other estate planning matter, contact our law firm today.