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National Estate Planning Awareness Week

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It's finally October, which means the year of 2017 is almost coming to an end. With that in mind, it is a good time to make sure that your affairs are in order. Estate planning is an important part of an individual's overall financial plan and should be reviewed yearly. Congress agrees, which is why the third week of October is designated as National Estate Planning Awareness Week.

Estate planning is more than the process of transferring assets after death. Estate planning also describes your wishes if you were to become ill, incapacitated, have an untimely death, and/or need care for minor children. It provides pre-planned directions for your loved ones during a stressful and emotional period. Ultimately, planning ahead will save you and your loved ones time, money, and the overwhelming feeling of settling your estate.

Estate planning is not exactly the most fun topic to talk about, which is why less than half of U.S. adults (42%) have a will or some form of estate plan, such as a trust or power of attorney. This means that the majority of American families will be facing financial uncertainty, attorney fees, and the burden of settling a loved one's estate in probate court, which can be time consuming and expensive. Planning ahead provides peace of mind and makes your wishes clear on how you want to care for your loved ones after you have passed.

Now, this begs the question. If estate planning is an important part of financial management, then why are so many US Adults left without an estate plan? It comes down to one simple answer: Awareness! Many Americans mistakenly believe that estate planning is for the retired or wealthy. This is a myth. Estate planning is for EVERYONE! The majority of our lives are centered around family and money. So why would you not want to protect both your family and your finances while you are alive and after you pass?

Here is what a comprehensive estate plan will include to help protect you, your family, and your wealth:

· Living Trust

· Last Will and Testament

· Personal Property Memorandum

· Declaration of Guardian for Client and/or Children

· Durable (Financial) Power of Attorney

· Medical Power of Attorney

· HIPAA Authorization Form

· Advance Health Care Directive

· Disposition of Remains

If you are interested in learning more about each of the documents listed above, then click here to read more. If you want to learn more about estate planning or trusts, then contact us today to speak with a professional attorney. We will be happy review your estate and suggest the appropriate documents to meet your goals.

In order to have a tailored estate plan to match you, then you must be aware of your estate planning goals. Here are 7 goals to consider when creating your estate plan:

7 Goals to Consider When Creating an Estate Plan

1. Health Care Decisions: If there comes a time when you are incapacitated or unconscious, then who is responsible to make decisions on your behalf? There are three legal documents that someone should have in place if you were to become incapacitated. This includes Medical Power of Attorney, HIPAA Authorization, and Advance Health Care Directive. Each document serves a different purpose. A HIPAA Authorization allows designated family members or friends to receive medical information about you from your health care providers. A Medical Power of Attorney allows you to designate a person to make medical decisions on your behalf if you were to become incapacitated. Lastly, an Advance Health Care Directive allows you to decide ahead of time if you wish to continue or not continue life-sustaining procedures, such as a feeding tube or respirator.

2. Financial Care Decisions: As we get older, sometimes numbers are not our strong suit. Studies have shown that our cognitive function declines as we age. By having a durable power attorney, as known as financial power attorney, you nominate someone to make financial decisions on your behalf. Your designated person will become your attorney-in-fact. In a durable financial power of attorney you may select the powers granted to your attorney-in-fact. Some of the powers you are able to grant would include: real property transactions (such as buying or selling a home), banking, business operations, tax matters, gifting, etc. You can give them limited powers or grant them a general financial power that gives them the authority to perform any action that you could perform if you were competent.

3. Planning for Long-Term Care: No one expects that they will need to move into a nursing home or have in-home care, but when it does happen it can become expensive. If you ever had to deal with an elderly parent that requires around the clock care, then I am sure you understand that it can be a difficult and hard decision to make -- and some times can be financially devastating for families. By planning ahead and setting money aside, you can ease the burden on your family.

4. Consider Your Children: If you have minor children, then it is a good idea to create a plan to protect them if you were to become incapacitated or have an untimely death. By planning ahead, you can appoint a guardian over your minor children if something happened to you. Also, you should consider how you want to provide financially for either minor or adult children once you pass. Do you want to create a trust that will protect assets for the duration of their life or for your grandchildren lives? Do you want to create an estate plan that is able to teach children how to manage their finances and set them up for success? By speaking with an estate-planning attorney, you can make sure that the right processes are in place to care for your children exactly how you would care for them if you were alive.

5. Review Your Beneficiary Designations: This should be done at least annually and at a minimum every time a major life event occurs. This would include marriage, divorce, the death of a loved one, or birth of a child. If you create a living trust, then an attorney may advise you to change beneficiary designations to fund your trust.

6. Consider Your Family: Emotions run high during the loss of a loved one. You should consider the toll this will take on your family. By planning ahead, you can eliminate the possibility of family feuds over large inheritances or transferring of assets. The best thing to do once you've created your estate plan is to share it with your family. This will eliminate confusion and animosity during a period that is meant for grieving.

7. Consider Your Own Health: Even though estate planning should be planned ahead of time, most people consider it when it because evident that their health could decline very quickly. In order for someone to create an estate plan, then they must be competent to execute a legal document. You should consider creating an estate plan now while you are fully competent and you can make decisions for yourself as well as your family. Failure to plan ahead may result in expensive and costly litigation to resolve disputes regarding whether you were competent to execute the disputed document.

Contact Kiefaber & Oliva LLP

Estate Planning doesn't have to be difficult. Here at Kiefaber & Oliva LLP, we make it easy for our clients. Our goal is to provide each of our clients a tailored estate plan that matches their goals. In order for us to provide a tailor-made estate plan, we have a professional attorney that will work with you from the beginning to the end. Contact our office today to schedule an initial consultation. (713) 229-0360 or Email Us.


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