Estate planning is one of the most important things you can do for the sake of your family and loved ones. Often, people find planning for their death to be uncomfortable or even morbid. It is, however, a natural part of life, and planning for it can ensure your wishes carry on for years after you’re gone.
Through sensible planning, your family won’t need to worry about what will happen if you are suddenly incapacitated or fall ill. Estate planning is not just deciding where your possessions will go after you die; it can also include how you wish to be cared for at the end of your life. In this article, we’ll discuss the components of estate planning in Mississippi and how you can begin preparations.
Tools To Help You Plan
Some of the most significant components of estate planning are the tools you’ll use to make your final wishes a reality. Your personal plan can include all of these tools or only those that appeal to your situation. Here are five of the most important tools that help make estate planning a possibility:
1) A Will
A Will is the most basic form of estate planning. In your will, you will provide clear instructions on distributing your wealth and assets. Then you will select a trusted family member or attorney to carry out your wishes. This person will be your executor and, if necessary, a temporary guardian to your minor-aged children.
Keep in mind your will should cover all of the property that you own, but it does not usually deal with things like investments, retirement plans, or life insurance policies. After you die, your executor will see that your property enters probate court, so your loved ones receive their property once everything is processed. Probate court will ensure that your debts are paid, and your property is distributed as you desire.
2) A Living Trust
A trust is similar to a will in that it makes decisions about where your property should go after you die. However, a trust can be used in much more specific ways. Instead of putting in your will that your daughter should receive some amount of money, a trust can be used to declare at what age she should receive the money or how much she should be allowed to receive every year. A trust is also a good spot to include investments like stocks and bonds.
The main reason to use a trust is to avoid probate court entirely. This ensures your family receives their money immediately. This can be extremely useful when you have dependents, when you are the sole breadwinner for your family, or when you need to provide your family with funds to cover your own funeral costs. To start your trust, you will transfer ownership of your property and investments from your own name (i.e., “John Doe”) to your living trust (i.e., “The Living Trust of John Doe”).
3) The Power Of Attorney
Declaring who will have your power of attorney ensures that a trusted friend or family attorney will manage your finances if you are incapable. Without this provision, the court may appoint someone without your consent. You will outline precisely what your wishes are to this person, and they carry them out exactly how you have designed them.
4) Healthcare Proxy
Your healthcare proxy is similar to the individual that will retain your power of attorney, but only in matters that relate to your healthcare. They will make decisions regarding your medical needs when you cannot make them yourself. To begin this process, you will fill out a HIPPA release allowing your doctors to discuss your medical records with the individual you appoint. You can decide whether you wish to be resuscitated, for how long you want to be kept alive on a ventilator, or any other instructions you find pertinent to the end of your life.
5) Succession Planning
A thoughtful plan regarding the succession of your property or businesses goes beyond simply avoiding probate court. The goal is a smooth transition of power to an individual or individuals you have chosen to fill your role after you die. Succession planning is not a one-time event, but should be considered a yearly issue. The progress of the individuals you appoint should be investigated, as should your needs and desires for their ascension. In large companies, succession planning usually involves a board of directors assigning a new CEO. In small family businesses, it involves training the next generation in how the business functions. With proper planning, you can ensure your business is handled in the same way you would handle it yourself.
If you are ready to begin estate planning in Mississippi, call The Law Offices of Rusty Williard. Call today for a free consultation at (601) 824-9797.