Estate Planning Lawyer – Creve Coeur, Missouri
When you hear the phrase “estate plan,” what comes to mind? Preparing an estate plan allows individuals to determine how their assets should be distributed after death, but it also allows them to instruct their loved ones (in legally enforceable ways) in regard to end-of-life care, guardianship of pets and minor children, who will handle their affairs in the event of incapacitation, etc. Most Americans associate estate planning with drafting a will. A will is an important part of a comprehensive estate plan, but it isn’t the only critical element of one. As you prepare for a consultation with an experienced Creve Coeur, Missouri estate planning lawyer at Legacy Law Center, consider how you might want to approach drafting these four fundamental estate planning elements:
- A Will
You don’t have to acquire a large amount of money during your lifetime to create a will or a trust. Even if you only own sentimental property, you will need to determine how those assets will be distributed once you have passed away. Your will can specify who will receive which assets and/or how you would like your property to be distributed. An experienced Creve Coeur, Missouri estate planning lawyer can explain what kinds of provisions may be made within the context of a legally enforceable will and what end-of-life matters must be addressed in alternative estate planning documents.
- A Power of Attorney
There are a few different types of Power of Attorney you should consider. These designations only come into play in the event that you become incapacitated or are receiving end-of-life care. First is a general power of attorney, or someone who can make decisions on your behalf for basic things. Second is a healthcare power of attorney, or someone who is designated to make decisions regarding your medical care. This could include whether to take you off life support or whether an invasive surgery is what you would want. Finally, a special power of attorney gives a designated person power related to a specified purpose, such as running a family business. A Creve Coeur, Missouri estate planning lawyer can explain why these designations are critical and how to go about making sure that your preferences are honored by anyone granted this authority on your behalf.
- Guardianship Statements
If you don’t designate guardianship for minor children within your estate plan, the court may be the entity deciding who will raise your children to adulthood. Sometimes minor children of deceased parents end up with whatever family members the court deems fit and sometimes they become wards of the state. Be sure you include guardianship designations in your will so that your guardianship preferences are clear and enforceable.
- Beneficiary Designations
This last estate planning “element” is a bit of a trick answer. Beneficiary designations for life insurance policies, retirement accounts, securities, and other assets/policies/contracts/accounts managed by outside companies are not generally made within an individual’s estate planning documents. They are made within the terms of the contracts associated with these assets. However, an experienced Creve Coeur, Missouri estate planning lawyer can help to ensure that your beneficiary designations are up-to-date and properly documented so that they are easier for your loved ones to navigate in the event of your death. Contact Legacy Law Center today.