The death of a loved one is one of the most difficult situations we face during our lifetimes.
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There is never a wrong time to begin planning for your financial future and the future of your family. An important part of that plan involves deciding what will happen to your home, your personal property, and your assets when you pass on. Developing a proper estate plan will ensure that your assets and family’s financial future will be properly managed during your life and after your death. There are many ways to accomplish your financial goals including wills, durable powers of attorney, health care powers of attorney, trusts, LLCs, and living wills. Each person’s financial situation is different and requires an individualized approach that best suits the person’s needs and wishes.
If a person dies without a will, they are referred to as dying “intestate.” If that happens, there are several state and federal laws that will control how a person’s property is passed on. The court system will be involved and will decide how the estate is divided without regard to the wishes of the person who has passed on or their loved ones. This process takes time, can be costly and may involve a great deal of stress. To save yourself and your loved ones the headache and time involved with this process, it is important to have a will. A will is a basic legal document that provides directions on what to do with your property after you die. In order for your end of life wishes to be carried out, it is vital to have a properly written will that will protect your estate and ensure the financial future of your loved ones.
Many people are also interested in determining what would happen to them if they were mentally or physically incapacitated to the point that they can no longer make decisions for themselves. A power of attorney can help guide those around you when you are incapable of making decisions affecting your welfare. A health care power of attorney or living will can allow you to appoint a representative to make heath care decision for you if you were no longer able to make them. This ensures that your end of life wishes are respected, including whether you wish to accept or decline life-prolonging treatments, such as artificial breathing and feeding tubes. A durable power of attorney allows you to appoint a representative to act for you in a financial capacity, including business affairs and investing. The durable power of attorney allows you to describe what powers your representative can exercise and how they can carry them out.
In addition to a will and powers of attorney, many individuals choose to create a trust for the benefit of their heirs as a part of their estate plan. When a trust is created, the person creating the trust, the “settlor,” decides what assets to put in to the trust, who will receive the benefit of those assets, who will manage the assets, and how the assets will be distributed and managed. Trusts can be either revocable or irrevocable. They can be created by you during your life or can be created upon the event of your death. They can benefit family, friends and even pets. Trusts are a very flexible and versatile method of making sure that your wishes are carried out long after your passing.
It can be difficult to determine which of these documents and methods or planning is necessary on your own. To ensure that your financial wishes are carried out effectively, it is important to speak to a skilled and knowledgeable attorney who can help you navigate the waters of estate planning. Contact the attorneys at GRL Law to help you protect your assets and meet your financial goals.
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Gourley, Rehkemper & Lindholm, PLC
440 Fairway Drive, Suite 210
West Des Moines, IA 50266
Des Moines, Iowa: 515-226-0500
Nationwide Toll Free: 1-877-475-5297
MASON CITY LOCATION
520 South Pierce Avenue, Suite 209
Mason City, Iowa 50401