It is confounding how many people are careful to make smart financial decisions for themselves and their loved ones, yet fail to create an estate plan that puts protective measures in place. Studies show that fewer than 50% of U.S. adults have created an estate plan, including a large percentage of people who are over 50.
An estate plan ensures that your assets are distributed according to your wishes upon your death. Without an estate plan in place, the Kentucky laws of intestacy allow the state to determine how your assets will be distributed, which may be significantly different than you wish. An estate plan also names representatives of your choosing who will be able to make medical and financial decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated and unable to do so.
The estate planning attorneys at Hoffman Walker & Knauf help individuals in Northern Kentucky create comprehensive estate plans that are tailored to their lives and address their objectives. Many people incorrectly believe that estate plans are primarily for individuals who have significant wealth. If you have any assets at all, and you have loved ones in your life, then you need an estate plan.
We also assist clients with estate administration, helping executors navigate the probate process and representing individuals in estate administration disputes. We bring clarity to estate administration and protect individuals’ rights regarding inheritance.
Every individual’s estate plan is different because it reflects that person’s life, his or her assets, and their unique wishes. However, there are some similarities to every estate plan, including its basic components. At minimum, your estate plan should have these legal documents in place:
A will that manages your estate and provides instructions on how to distribute your assets following your death
A durable power of attorney is designating one or more personal representatives who will handle financial matters for you if you become incapacitated and make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so
A health care directive that spells out your wishes regarding end-of-life medical measures and other directions regarding medical treatment in case you are unable to communicate these wishes
Depending upon your situation, your estate plan may have additional components, such as trusts, which can address a wide range of issues and increase the control you have over your assets even after you die. For example, trusts may be used to minimize taxes, avoid probate, or provide funds to care for a special needs child while also ensuring that the child qualifies for governmental subsidies. Our experienced estate planning lawyers will review your situation and explore the possibility of creating trusts to help you accomplish your objectives.