To some people, estate planning involves a single action: the creation of a last will. In fact, a comprehensive estate plan will include the execution of additional documents. Plus, a last will is not always the best choice as a vehicle of asset transfer.
Let’s look at the details.
If you want to be fully prepared for the future, you should consider the eventualities of aging. People are living longer and longer lives, with the oldest segment of the population growing faster than any other.
According to the Social Security Administration, if you are a man turning 65 today, your life expectancy exceeds 84 years.
People who reach an advanced age sometimes become unable to handle all of their own decision-making. There are many different causes of incapacity, but Alzheimer’s disease is a leading culprit.
The Alzheimer’s Association tells us that 40 to 45 percent of people who are at least 85 are suffering from the disease. This is an attention-getting percentage.
If you take no steps in advance to prepare for possible incapacity, the state could be petitioned to appoint a guardian to act on your behalf in the event of your incapacitation.
You can prevent a guardianship proceeding through the execution of legally binding documents called durable powers of attorney. With these documents you name decision-makers who would be empowered to manage your affairs should you become incapacitated at some point in time.
Your incapacity plan should also include a living will. A living will has nothing to do with financial matters. You use this document to state your wishes regarding the use of life-sustaining measures.
Last Will Alternatives
If you use a last will to direct future asset transfers, the will would be admitted to probate after you die. This is the legal process of estate administration.
The heirs to the estate that you name in your last will would not receive their inheritances right away. There are various different tasks that must be completed during probate, and inheritances cannot be distributed until the court has probated and closed the estate.
In most places, the probate process is going to take a number of months, even in simple cases.
There is nothing compelling you to use a last will as a vehicle of asset transfer. There are other options available to you that would facilitate asset transfers outside of probate.
Free Report on Last Wills
You should understand all of the facts when you are planning your estate. We have prepared an in-depth special report on last wills, and you can obtain a lot of very useful information if you download this report.
The report is being offered to our readers free of charge at the present time, and you can access your copy through this page: Grand Forks ND Estate Planning Report.