How Proper Estate Planning Prevents the Need for Probate



Every adult should have a last will and testament. In fact, a complete estate plan is even more important, especially for those who have children. An estate plan typically includes the last will and testament with directives for handling financial issues and bequests. The plan may also contain a power of attorney that legally enables another person to make medical or business decisions on your behalf. A third document is a living will, which gives authority to a family member or friend to make decisions and act on your behalf in legal and medical matters. 

When to Prepare an Estate Plan 

Anyone of legal age and sound mind should have these documents prepared by a qualified attorney who specializes in providing estate planning assistance. They can answer questions and offer guidance about the estate plan issues that you may be dealing with. These include making provisions for your medical needs if you become unconscious or significantly disabled. You may also need help in deciding how to provide for a spouse when you are gone and leaving an inheritance for children. Experienced estate planning attorneys can explain how the process works and help you navigate common issues, such as how to divide your estate and whether to provide bequests with stipulations for your grandchildren. 

How to Update Your Estate Plan 

If your life circumstances change in situations like marriage, adoption, or divorce, your estate plan should be updated to reflect new directives you may have. Otherwise, if you pass away, your estate could go to probate if it does not accommodate the changes in your family structure. Someone could file a lawsuit claiming the will is unjust. See the estate planning attorneys when you have updates to be made to your last will and testament or any of the other estate plan documents. 

File Your Estate Plan Documents 

The lawyer who prepares your estate plan documents can have them recorded officially at the county recorder’s office. You can also do that for yourself. Be sure to keep several time-stamped, notarized copies that may be needed by family members when the time comes to prevent judicial concerns and the possible probation of your will. 

Revise Documents as Necessary 

Your power of attorney might convey the right to another person to oversee your financial affairs if you become ill or unable to handle them. But your medical decisions might not be included in the POA (power of attorney). If you become ill or expect a lengthy convalescence, you may want to have someone manage your medical decisions as well. Be sure to change the document accordingly and file a new POA when required to avoid confusion and possible conflicts if you are seriously ill or comatose. 

Preparing now for your future can make life easier for your loved ones after you pass away. Work with a respected attorney like Anthony L. Barney to ensure you file the proper documents and that everything will be in place when the time comes.

Brooke Chaplan

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