Estate Plans | Wills | Trusts
Guardianship | Probate | Litigation
Proper estate planning involves the formation, interpretation, and execution of wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and the like. These are tools designed to preserve and pass assets to loved ones without unnecessary expense, delay, or probate court entanglement. They can provide peace of mind knowing that your property will pass to your intended beneficiary, and not to the pockets of attorneys, probate courts, the state, or that cousin twice removed you've never met. A proper estate plan can also assist with ensuring your needs are immediately cared for in the event of an illness or accident. Jordan Peel received the CALI award for estate planning from UNLV Law School and has assisted countless families with creating their own tailor-made estate plan.
Probate is a court process that generally oversees the management, liquidation, and distribution of certain assets that don't otherwise pass to beneficiaries by trust or operation of law. As you can guess, probate can be complex and difficult to navigate. It typically requires filing court petitions, preparing inventories of assets, rendering accountings of assets and expenses, attending court hearings, seeking court approval to sell and distribute assets, and the like. A daunting task to say the least. The time and expense of probate, however, can be avoided with proper estate planning.
Power of Attorney
Most of us have seen the frailties of life impact loved ones and friends. Unfortunately, diminished capacity, including the inability to make sound decisions, is sometimes the result. Court-monitored guardianship proceedings are designed to help in such situations. But as with most court proceedings, they can be time-consuming and expensive.
Fortunately, alternatives exist. For instance, without court involvement, powers of attorney allow you to designate in advance another individual to make decisions on your behalf. He or she is bound to act in your best interests and in accordance with any instructions you give.
Power of Attorney for Financial Decisions. This document gives your agent various powers to make financial decisions on your behalf. These powers typically include the ability to open and close bank accounts, buy and sell property, manage real estate, operate a business, handle tax matters, or otherwise manage your assets. You can also give your agent the power to make gifts, alter terms of a family trust, or change beneficiary designations. Such powers typically become effective immediately upon signing and terminate upon death or revocation. However, you can also create a power of attorney for a limited purpose or a specific time period.
Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions. This document gives your agent powers to obtain medical information or make medical decisions on your behalf. It can include powers to access and review personal medical information, as well as powers to consent to, withhold, or stop certain medical treatments. However, your agent typically has the right to exercise these powers only if you become incapacitated. These powers commonly terminate upon death, revocation, or the occurrence of some future event. For example, you can specify that the powers only remain valid during a particular surgery or while you’re traveling, such that when the event in question has concluded, the powers are automatically revoked.
As with any legal document, it’s always wise to seek counsel from an experienced attorney before signing. Rod Woodbury can be reached at 702-933-0777 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.