What is Estate Planning?
Estate planning is a thorough strategy for any person to manage their assets. Regardless of your level of wealth, estate planning is a vital part of your overall financial plan. Planning for what will become of your property and responsibilities after your death can be an overwhelming task, governed by complex state and federal laws. Planning ahead can give you greater control, privacy and an opportunity to leave more of your legacy to your loved ones. Knowing the basics of how estate laws work in your state can help you plan with confidence. These guidelines provide a basic overview for those getting their affairs in order in Tennessee.
Keep in mind, estate planning is not “death planning.” Estate planning is “life planning.” This process is essential and rewarding. The process usually requires the preparation of several sophisticated legal documents, but those themselves are not “estate planning.” Estate planning involves developing a complete strategy for managing your assets. This strategy must be properly documented and maintained by a committed professional who has taken the time to get to know you and your specific needs.
How Do I Know If I Need an Estate Plan?
Many people have the misconception that estate planning is for the wealthy. That belief could not be farther from the truth! Estate planning is for every husband, wife, mother, father, grandparent, business owner or professional who:
- Has someone they care about
- Is concerned about providing responsibility for their own well-being and the well-being of loved ones
- Is seeking to make a difference in the lives of others after they are gone
What Kind of Estate Plan Do I Need?
At The Law Offices of Justin M. Gilbert, we are experienced in drafting many different estate planning documents. Common documents include the following:
The will is the cornerstone of most estate plans. It includes basic details about:
- How you want your property distributed after your death
- Provisions for your children and other dependents
- Who you choose to be executor of your estate
- Charitable donations you may wish to make posthumously
If you die without a will, the state gets to decide what happens to your estate.
- Power of Attorney
Getting your affairs in order does not only concern planning for a time after your death. This is a good opportunity to put some contingency plans in place in case there comes a time when you are unable to make choices or carry out certain actions yourself. Financial power of attorney is a tool that allows you to choose an agent who can act on your behalf in financial matters.
- Health Care Directives
Many people have strong feelings about life support and other heroic health care measures. It is a good idea to document such preferences in a living will or advance directive, so that in case something happens, your family and medical team can act in accordance with your wishes. You can also designate someone to make health care decisions on your behalf.
What Else Should Be Included?
Estate plans are as unique as the individual. Once you have a will, medical directives, power of attorney and other documents together, you may also want to add:
- A secession plan for your business
- Provisions for pets you may leave behind
- A comprehensive life insurance policy
- Funeral arrangements or preferences
Do I Need a Lawyer to Administer My Estate Plan?
A competent lawyer will help establish a plan to protect your assets. He will know how to protect your assets while you are alive and he will know how to protect your children’s inheritance once you and your spouse have passed away.
The protection for your children should include the following:
- Protection for your child’s inheritance in a divorce situation
- Protection for your grandchild’s inheritance if your adult child dies and your son-in-law or daughter-in-law remarries.
- Protection from their own poor decisions
How Can a Tennessee Estate Planning Lawyer Help?
Estate planning is a complex process and so are the state and federal laws that govern it. Small oversights can cause big problems for your loved ones. Ensure your plans meet all legal requirements with the help of The Law Offices of Justin M. Gilbert.