Estate Planning FAQs

Kim Raemdonck

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No one wants to think about the end of life. It’s a difficult, grief-stricken conversation that can be made tougher by uncertainty. This is why one of the most important ways we can show our loved ones how much we care about them is by making plans ahead of time. You may not see the need for estate planning now – you’re young and healthy, or don’t consider yourself wealthy, or aren’t sure what you want. But the best time to start is now, if not for you, for your loved ones. 

So, you may be asking: where do I start? Estate planning typically involves creation of basic documents, such as a Last Will and Testament, Living Will, Medical Power of Attorney, Financial Power of Attorney, and a Disposition of Last Remains. You may need all or some of those. They may be very straightforward or more complicated. Legacy Planning & Probate is here to simplify the process, address your needs, and provide you with peace of mind. Read on for some additional information and tips to get the process moving. 

Why do I need a Will? I’ll just let my kids hash it out when I’m gone and enjoy them, now, without ruffling feathers!

Having your estate planning affairs in place prior to your death is one of the best gifts you can give your family. In your will, you can direct to whom your assets are distributed and who will manage your affairs after your death.  If there are certain individuals who you do not want to leave anything to, you can also state this in your will. Being clear in your estate planning provides peace of mind for your friends and family members in an already difficult situation because your loved ones will feel confident that they are carrying out your wishes.  We are committed to giving you the tools you need to manage difficult conversations and plan for the future.

Does a Will override a beneficiary designation? 

A Will does not override a beneficiary designation. This is why reviewing your financial information during your estate planning discussions is an important step in the planning process.  At Legacy Planning and Probate, we work closely with you as we know that each circumstance is unique, and that everyone has issues that require nuanced care and patient understanding.

What is the difference between a Living Will and a Medical Power of Attorney?

Health care directives are an invaluable tool for getting you the care you want. But, because they only come up when you are unable to articulate those wants for yourself, it’s important to make those wishes clear when you are in an emotionally, mentally, and physically competent state. Many clients worry their unique requests or specific wishes won’t be honored by the healthcare system or their family members. Some do not have close family members to rely on, either. Simply put, a Living Will allows you to make known whether you would like life-prolonging medical treatments and for how long. A Living Will only takes effect when you are incapacitated and there is no real hope of recovery. A Medical Power of Attorney allows you to appoint someone to serve as your agent to make medical decisions should you become incapacitated.  

Why do I need a Financial Power of Attorney?

A Financial Power of Attorney, also known as a Durable Power of Attorney for Finances, names an agent that you trust to make financial decisions when you are unable to communicate your wishes. Our firm urges clients to consider including this document in their estate planning to ensure powers are streamlined when you need it most. Financial institutions are becoming more particular about allowing non-account holders to access accounts, even in cases of basic functions like paying bills. Financial Powers of Atorney can grant the agent the ability to perform important functions, such as file tax returns, buy/sell/manage real estate properties or vehicles, conduct business transactions, borrow money, handle insurance claims, etc. During an initial consultation, we will work with you to unpack your specific goals and the precise powers to include in your document. 

I’ll let my family figure out whatever is the best when the time comes. I don’t want to be a burden. Why would I specify things in a Disposition of Last Remains?

We constantly hear from clients that one of their biggest fears is becoming a burden on their family members later in life. We understand. Our solution is to help you clearly, thoughtfully, and compassionately explain details of how you’d like your body treated after you pass.  You can be as specific or as broad as you’d like, but often clients consider (and specify) how they want their body treated and where they’d like their remains to be located. But there are additional details you could include. Maybe you’d like to provide for your family members to go to your favorite destination and have a family trip in your memory. Whatever your unique intentions, we pride ourselves on working closely with our clients to discover their specific needs so that we can make challenging topics simple, straightforward, and educational. 

I don’t want to create “trust fund kids”. Why should I establish a Trust?

A Trust is a common method by which you can care for your loved ones when you’re no longer able. It’s true that some trusts are written in a way that allows beneficiaries to take advantage or otherwise enjoy a lifestyle that you may not like. The good news is that trusts can be flexible or fixed, and you can dictate the terms now to avoid unwanted behaviors down the road. In addition, trusts offer a variety of benefits that are worth considering. For instance, trusts can have tax benefits, they can help during times of illness or disability, and perhaps most importantly, trusts can help avoid the probate process. We can discuss the positives and negatives of trust formation and give you the opportunity to make the best decision for yourself and for your family. Whatever you decide, know that we are here to give you information and offer objective advice, and help you determine the path that works for you. 

We strive to help our clients and potential clients understand the depth and breadth of the industry! What other questions do you have about estate planning documents? Are you ready to get started? Be sure to contact us through the website by clicking here to send us a message with your questions or start the process. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

OF COUNSEL

Kim Raemdonck was born in Galveston, Texas, and raised in Fort Worth, Texas. She graduated magna cum laude from Texas A&M University with honors. Kim went on to attend the University of Denver Sturm College of Law where she obtained a J.D. and an L.L.M. in taxation. She is admitted to practice law in Colorado and Texas and before the United States District Court for the District of Colorado and the United States Tax Court.

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