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Leaving a Legacy: Need-to-Knows of Estate Planning

No matter your age, it’s crucial to prepare for the unexpected. While circumstances differ, anything can happen in the blink of an eye, so it’s a good idea to consult a qualified attorney who will help you manage your assets, their distribution, and help nominate people to take care of things, should you not be able to. Here are some key terms to familiarize yourself with before booking that first consultation with your attorney.

Trusts & Wills

A living trust is a primary tool to avoid probate — the extensive legal process after someone passes away, which would require that the court oversees the entire transfer process to the beneficiary. Having a trust is crucial in helping save your family time, money, and headaches in the event of a death or accident. At the Law Offices of Davis R. Zellmer, you can find the best trust package that will work for you.

“A trust is just one of many ways you can avoid probate, but it is the recommended way when you own real property,” Davis Zellmer said. “If you own a home, it’s not just for the extremely wealthy, like some people think, it is for the everyday person who owns a home.”

The misnomer with a will, Zellmer says, is that it avoids probate. However, it does not. A will is very important to have to control non-trust assets; the good thing about a trust, however, according to Zellmer, is that you can set up specific contingencies, like staggering money distribution to a young child in the event of their parents passing away.

Power of Attorney

Power of attorney is for incapacitation. If you’re deemed unable to make a financial decision, for example, the power of attorney for finances will direct somebody to act on your behalf.

“You also have a healthcare power of attorney or what they call a healthcare directive which entitles an agent, the person you elect, to make your healthcare decisions for you if necessary,” Zellmer said. “So if you’re in an automobile accident and you face the decision of surgery, and you can’t make a decision for yourself, somebody else is there to say ‘Yes’ or ‘No.’”

HIPAA Release Form

The HIPPA Release Form allows for immediate access to your health information to loved ones.

“If you have a family member who just wants to know how you’re doing in the hospital, and you want them to be able to find out, without them being able to jump through hoops, you elect them, and put them on the [HIPPA] form, and they can see how you’re doing.”

Another important consideration when drafting a trust is the nomination of guardians.

“This is very important because you want to be sure to give the direction of who you want your kids to go to in your absence,” Zellmer said.

Finally, the second most important aspect of getting a trust is what the legal profession calls funding the trust.

“You must know how to actually put assets into the trust and I give you direction on how to do that,” Zellmer added.

This article is not to be interpreted as legal advice as each situation is different, please consult the attorney directly for your particular case.

To book your consultation with Davis Zellmer, call (562) 760-1630


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