Creating a comprehensive estate plan isn’t as simple as writing your last will and testament. Several essential estate planning documents will help you protect your assets and your family’s financial future and the best plan is one that is created specifically for you by someone that is skilled at drawing attention to important issues that are often overlooked. Everything you own, including your house, car, and personal possessions, that is not disposed of by such things as joint title or beneficiary designation is part of your estate. Essential estate planning documents allow you to choose who receives your assets when you pass away but also cover potential incapacity during life.
Mississippi Essential Estate Planning Documents
A comprehensive estate plan will include several important estate planning documents. The experienced estate planning lawyers at Palmer & Slay, PLLC, will carefully review your financial situation and goals and help you create a comprehensive estate plan. We will ensure that all of the legal documents in your estate plan are accurate and fulfill your wishes. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation.
Advance Health Care Directive as an Essential Estate Planning Document
Thinking about the future can be challenging, especially if you’re thinking about an unexpected medical crisis. However, medical crises can happen to anyone at any age. Many Mississippi residents are not prepared for a health crisis or disabling illness. If you cannot make healthcare decisions on your behalf due to incapacitation, doctors will ask your family members to decide for you. Your family members may even have to go to court to be appointed as the decision-maker, a process that is expensive and easily avoidable.
You can spare your loved ones from going through this process and protect yourself by creating an advance healthcare directive. An advance healthcare directive is a legal form that allows you to choose a health care agent, or attorney-in-fact, to make medical decisions for you if you become incapacitated. Your healthcare agent cannot make decisions for you unless a doctor declares you to be medically incapacitated. You can also state your medical treatment preferences in emergency medical situations in your advance health care directive.
Durable Power of Attorney
In an advance healthcare directive, you can choose an agent to make medical decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. A durable power of attorney allows you to select an agent who will manage your financial affairs immediately or upon you becoming incapacitated. When you create your durable power of attorney document, you will appoint a representative, also known as your attorney-in-fact.
Your attorney-in-fact will be able to make financial decisions on your behalf. Your durable power of attorney may be used to pay your bills, manage your investments, sell property, deal with legal matters and government benefits, as well as many other things. Creating a durable power of attorney document will help your loved ones greatly because they won’t need to spend time or money petitioning the court to appoint a conservator for your estate. Appointing the right agent is critical though. Agents operating through a power of attorney are held to a higher standard and when that authority is abused, it can lead to legal problems for both of you. It recommended that only responsible and mature persons be appointed agents. If you have a relative that cannot manage their own money or balance a checking account, appointing that person is a recipe for disaster, both for the agent and the principal. We will walk you through the process of choosing the right agents for your power of attorney.
Last Will and Testament
Most estate plans are either will-based or trust-based. Depending on your financial situation, creating a will-based estate plan could be right for you. A will is a legal document that sets forth what you would like to happen to your assets after you pass away. In order to transfer assets such as property, the will has to be admitted to probate, a process in the chancery court system that recognizes the legitimacy of the will and oversees the payment of creditors and the distribution of assets. Anyone in Mississippi who’s over the age of 18 can create a will. It’s wise to take the time to create a will as soon as possible, especially if you have children, as designating who will care for children in the event of death is more important than the distribution of assets.
A will must meet several legal requirements in Mississippi to be legally enforceable so this is not something that you would want to do on your own. One of our experienced estate planning lawyers can help you create a will to protect your loved ones. If you pass away without a will in place, the chancery court will distribute your assets according to Mississippi intestacy laws. Under these laws, you have no control over who receives your assets or how the assets are received.
More people than ever are creating trust-based estate plans. Avoiding the time-consuming and often expensive probate process is one of the greatest benefits of creating a trust-based estate plan. There are many different types of trusts that are legally recognizable in Mississippi. A revocable living trust is one of the most common types of trust. Revocable trusts can be changed or amended at any point during your lifetime.
On the other hand, an irrevocable trust cannot be terminated during your lifetime. However, irrevocable trusts provide some unique benefits. An irrevocable trust can limit your estate tax exposure, and they can help you qualify for long-term care benefits through Medicaid. Do you have a child with special needs? If so, you may want to consider creating an irrevocable special needs trust to provide for your loved one while not hindering their eligibility for public benefits.
You can also create a trust in your will, known as a testamentary trust. Creating a testamentary trust can be appealing because it’s easier to manage. The trust creator doesn’t need to actively manage the trust because it will only come into existence after the creator passes away. Assets in a testamentary trust are still subject to the probate process, so if your goal is to avoid probate, you should create another type of trust. Our estate planning lawyers can help you determine which type of trust works best for your needs and goals.
A beneficiary designation allows you to designate someone to receive your assets automatically after you pass away. Beneficiary designations are available in many retirement accounts, such as 401(k)s, 403(b)s, IRAs. They can also be found on bank accounts, investment accounts, and life insurance policies. Beneficiary designations supersede the instructions in your will. It’s important that you review your beneficiary designations with your lawyer and update them after any significant life changes.
Contact a Mississippi Estate Planning Lawyer for Help with Your Estate Planning Documents
Do you have questions about the estate planning process? Would you like to ensure that your estate plan includes all of the essential documents that you need? Our estate planning lawyers are here to help. We will walk you through the process and ensure you have an accurate estate plan. Contact Palmer & Slay, PLLC, today to speak to one of our experienced estate planning attorneys.