Estate Planning 101: Wills & Trusts

estate_planning_101As we age, one of the uncomfortable truths we have to face is that at some point we may not be able to independently manage our own affairs. Thinking about losing control of our assets and health care decisions isn’t ever easy, but by planning ahead, we can ensure that everything is managed according to our wishes. Through an Estate Plan, you can line up all the documents necessary to ensure that your wishes are fulfilled both during your lifetime and after your death. A custom-fitted Estate Plan benefits not only you, but also your loved ones, by protecting your assets and making sure your personal and financial goals are met.

Elder Law of East Tennessee can help you take stock of your existing documents, dust them off, and/or create new documents to complete your comprehensive Estate Plan. An Estate Plan through Elder Law of East Tennessee includes a Last Will and Testament or Revocable Living Trust; Supplemental Needs Trust for a Surviving Spouse; Durable General Power of Attorney; Durable Health Care Power of Attorney; and Advance Directive.

You may not understand what all of these documents are for or how all of them work together to meet the client’s personal and financial goals. So let’s start by taking a look at a couple of these documents that have to do with property management.

The Last Will and Testament, the most familiar of all the Estate Planning documents, only goes into effect after your death. It appoints and instructs a Personal Representative to settle your debts and expenses and distribute your property after you pass away. Without a Will in place, state laws govern who is in charge and how your assets are handled after your death.

Another document which allows you to direct your assets for the benefit of your loved ones is a Revocable Living Trust. Unlike a Will, a Trust is effective during your lifetime. It is a tool for managing your property under the control of a Trustee or Co-Trustees. A Trust can be set up such that your property and finances are managed according to your wishes in the event that you become incapacitated and unable to handle them yourself while you are living. This can protect you from financial exploitation and can ultimately help your family avoid the cost and delay associated with probate. It is especially helpful if you own real estate in more than one state.

Tune in next week for more information on the documents involved in Estate Planning! In the meantime, call us at 865-951-2410 if you want to learn more.