Month: June 2016

What You Need to Know About Estate Planning

It’s one of the most emotional topics to deal with, yet the last thing you want to do is leave your family and loved ones scrambling to make sure they are legally and financially taken care of after you pass. If planned appropriately, your estate could be a wonderful gift to leave your family.

Just over 50% of Americans have a will set up. In many states, this means that when you die, your estate will be decided on by the courts. It could be heavily taxed and distributed among anyone that claims they have a stake to it or be awarded to one party that you may not want to have control of your financial affairs.

Even if you feel like you don’t have enough in assets to warrant a will, you should still consult an attorney. Most attorneys offer consultations and you may find that by setting things up while you’re still here to oversee them, you may end up leaving more behind to your family than you imagined you could.

What You Must Do if You Have Children

Anyone that has kids, whether grown or still small, should have these basics completed:

A will, a power of attorney, a health care proxy, a “DNR” order, and possibly a trust.

A will is a legal document that ensures your assets are distributed the way you want them to be after you die. Every will has to name an executor – someone that oversees the distribution of the assets. If your children are under 18 you also need to name a legal guardian for them.

A power of attorney allows another person to act as your representative in various matters, such as finances and insurance if you are unable to do so.

A health care proxy allows you to designate another person to act on your behalf if health care decisions need to be made, in the event that you are not able to make these decisions for yourself.

A “DNR” order stands for “do not resuscitate” and lets healthcare workers know that you do not want extreme measures taken to keep you alive if you are incapacitated.

Trusts are not always applicable, but if you have a large estate and/or a lot of assets you should have a trust. This is something that you definitely want to consult with an attorney on to be sure that your family is able to maintain ownership of the estate after you pass.

As you are doing your will and estate planning also keep a list available and accessible of the following:

Any financial accounts, all bills that are set up on auto-pay, any safe deposit boxes, pensions, savings bonds and life insurance policies.

These documents are also helpful to have:

Tax returns, deeds for property owned, mortgage details, titles to all vehicles, marriage license, and military discharge information.

These are simple steps you can take to make sure your loved ones are well taken care of when you’re not around to do so.

The estate lawyers of Krause Donovan Estate Law Partners, LLC practice law in the areas of Probate, Wills, Estate Planning, and Trusts. We assist clients in and around Madison, Wisconsin with all matters related to estate planning, trusts, and probate matters. Our dedicated attorneys will even make house calls if you are unable to come to our office.

Contact our office by calling (608) 268-5751 to schedule a consultation or use our online contact form.

End of Life Health Care: What You Need to Know

As you begin planning for retirement and doing general estate planning, do not overlook the importance of end of life health care planning.

With people living longer than ever before, the reality is that you may not be in a position to communicate what your wishes and desires are for health care as you near the end of your life. It’s important that these are set up ahead of time utilizing something like an advanced healthcare directive.

An advance health care directive is simply a written document that appoints another person to make health care decisions on your behalf when you are unable to. In many cases, this directive will spell out specific situations and how you want them handled, such as do not resuscitate orders.

The best time to create your advance directive is when you are young. You never know when you may be involved in an accident and become incapacitated. At a very minimum you should at least designate a health care proxy, someone that can act on your behalf in such circumstances.

Naming a health care proxy or setting up an advance directive does not mean you are giving up your rights to determine your own health care. As long as you are able to communicate with your doctors your health care will always be left to you to decide. These other provisions only come into place if you cannot communicate.

If you have a health condition and you have a trusted medical provider it is always a good idea to have a conversation with them and your family about your wishes, should you become unable to communicate. You should also have a document stating your wishes that all parties sign and your doctor can keep.

Most experts agree that these wishes and guidelines should be re-reviewed after or around other major events in your life – when you hit a new decade in age, when a loved one dies, if you divorce, once diagnosed with a serious medical condition and/or a decline in your health.

By setting up these important plans formally, in writing, with your family and medical providers on board, you are not giving up any rights, nor are you indicating that you do not wish to be revived. You are simply sharing what you do and do not want in the case that you face a medical emergency and cannot effectively communicate these wishes to those taking care of you.

Advance directives, living wills and other documents that spell these wishes out can provide you a great peace of mind as you move forward in life.

The estate lawyers of Krause Donovan Estate Law Partners, LLC practice law in the areas of Probate, Wills, Estate Planning, and Trusts. We assist clients in and around Madison, Wisconsin with all matters related to estate planning, trusts, and probate matters. Our dedicated attorneys will even make house calls if you are unable to come to our office.

Contact our office by calling (608) 268-5751 to schedule a consultation or use our online contact form.

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