Estate Planning is Not Only About Distributing Assets | Promise Law Estate Planning
Estate Planning

Estate Planning is Not Only About Distributing Assets

By 3 Nov, 2017 June 3rd, 2019 No Comments

When you think of the term “estate plan,” do you think, “Who gets my stuff when I’m dead?” Of course this is part of estate planning, but it’s not all of it. This seems obvious, but there might come a time in your life when you’re not dying, yet you’re not able to make your own decisions. What then? Estate planning is not only about distributing assets, it’s also about determining who should have the authority to act on your behalf during any period of lifetime incapacity, and at your death.
The technical terms for these decision makers are agent, executor, and trustee, but I find the easiest way to think about this is to answer these questions:

  • Whom do I trust to make medical decisions for me if I’m unable?
  • Whom do I trust to manage my finances for me if I’m living but unable?
  • Would I also want to have them distribute my estate at my death?”

If you’re married or partnered, these might be easy questions, but consider what could happen if your spouse or partner couldn’t act for some reason.

The executor you choose is always your decision, but here are some things you should not do. You shouldn’t choose someone because they expect to be named (for example, because they are the oldest child). You shouldn’t choose someone who has a poor track record of managing their own finances or “coming undone” during another person’s health crisis. Other things to keep in mind are this person’s location and personal circumstances. If your best friend is one you trust but he’s a stay-at-home parent of triplets several states away, is it really likely he is able to come to your aid?

When it comes to preparing an estate plan, the size of your bank account or property doesn’t matter. You don’t have to be a millionaire to set up an estate plan and appoint an executor to distribute your assets after your death. If you wish to divide your financial assets, property, and other belongings among family, friends, and charities, it’s important to pick the right person for the responsibility. Consulting with an attorney who specializes in estate plans and wills is one step in the right direction.

Contact Promise Law in Hampton, Virginia at 757-690-2470, or contact us online, to discuss any additional questions you may have regarding estate planning.

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