The Importance of Comprehensive Estate Planning

Although something of a cliché, there is a great deal of truth to the adage that it’s never too early to start estate planning. By that, it is meant that if you are an employed adult with income coming in and you’ve started to accumulate some assets, you need to give serious thought to comprehensive estate planning. Even if you previously undertook estate planning, changes in tax laws, like the changes made in 2017, call for a review of what was previously put in place.

Elements of Comprehensive Estate Planning

A comprehensive estate plan covers a number of issues. If you’re estate planning needs, goals, and objectives are relatively basic, you may only need to draft a will. On the other hand, if they are more complex, you may also need a trust. A trust typically is established if you’ve more significant assets and desire to avoid the probate process and taxes upon your passing.

An estate planning lawyer can also assist in establishing a durable power of attorney for health care or a durable financial power of attorney. These are ancillary instruments that are recommended to protect you in the event that you end up in a situation in which you’re incapable of making certain types of decisions for yourself.

Selecting a Personal Representative for Your Will, Trust, and Power of Attorney

An important part of the overall estate planning process is selecting an appropriate person or persons to serve as your personal representative in a number of capacities. Depending on what you will be undertaking as part of your estate planning, you may need to select an executor for a last will and testament, a trustee for a trust, and an attorney-in-fact for a financial power of attorney, or power of attorney for health care.

When it comes to selecting one of these types of estate-related personal representatives, you need to focus on an individual who you’ve confidence in and trust. An executor, trustee, or attorney-in-fact will ultimately be charged with addressing some of the most significant types of issues. These include everything from carrying out your last wishes to addressing health care and medical matters when you’re unable to do so on your own.

A personal representative must be an individual who has the experience, background, and capabilities necessary to achieve the objectives associated with a particular task. For example, an executor is charged with settling the affairs of your estate and carrying out the wishes and directives you’ve delineated in your last will and testament.

Writing a Will

In some cases, particularly in the earlier stages of a person’s adult life, writing a will may be the primary element of estate planning. In most cases, this is a relatively simple and generally affordable foundation upon which to initiate the estate planning process.

Establishing a Trust

As your financial life becomes more complicated and you experience an increase in assets, some type of trust may be a recommended part of your estate planning efforts. A trust is a complicated legal instrument that necessitates the assistance of a skilled estate attorney with specific experience in trust law.

Creating a Power of Attorney

When you embark on creating an estate plan, you may elect to create certain powers of attorney. There are two types; a durable power of attorney for health care and a financial durable power of attorney.

A power of attorney for health care is a legal instrument that designates an individual to make medical decisions for you when you’re unable to do so on your own. A financial power of attorney is an instrument created to appoint a person to make financial decisions on your behalf.

A key element of both of these types of powers of attorney is durability. Technically, you want to create durable powers of attorney for health care and financial matters. “Durable” means that a particular power of attorney goes into effect when you are incapacitated in some manner.

Consult an Estate Planning Lawyer

If you’re considering planning for your estate, or if you need to modify an existing plan, schedule a no-charge, no-obligation consultation with an estate planning lawyer at the Knee Law Firm in Hackensack. You can arrange for an appointment with an estate planning attorney at our firm by calling 201-996-1200.