After a person dies those that are left behind must contend with the numerous issues that soon follow, which includes distribution of the deceased person’s estate. Without the proper documentation upon death, a person is said to have passed intestate, which means all assets become the property of the state who then determines the deceased’s next of kin and distributes the assets appropriately. The best way to avoid a messy period immediately following death is to utilize the services of an estate planning attorney, who will likely use one or more of the following tools.
A will is a collection of a person’s last wishes and desires and is designed to identify who inherits what after their passing. In addition to listing what belongings are to be passed on, it may also state what assets are to be sold and may include a provision for charitable donations from the deceased person’s estate. It may also include information about the processing of a person’s remains and any desires or wishes they have regarding any funeral services.
While a will is a legal document that activates upon the death of the author, a living trust serves a similar purpose but is active as soon as the trust executed. This type of tool allows a person to plan for their care in their older years, and if a person is deemed to be incompetent, it will enable a named executor to make decisions on their behalf. An attorney will structure the trust so that any tax liabilities are minimal.
Health Care Proxy
In some cases, a client may not have a substantial amount of assets, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t plan for the inevitable. In cases where a person is no longer deemed competent enough to make their own health care decisions, they should have a named proxy to make decisions on their behalf. A health care proxy provides for this type of support and allows another person to make medical based decisions, including the termination of any life supporting devices.
Regardless of a person’s position in life, there are a variety of tools that will help those who are left behind after a loved one passes. Contact an attorney today to learn more about the types of tools available, and how they are designed to offer protection and peace of mind during a tumultuous time.