Whether your estate is small or large, planning is essential to maintaining control of your health and assets, ensuring your loved ones are provided for, protecting your hard-earned dollars, and preserving your legacy.
The best way to choose the optimum estate plan for you is to speak with an estate planning attorney about your goals and what you want to accomplish with your plan. You never know what may come up in your future, so it’s important to think ahead of possibilities for which you may need to prepare.
A few years ago, a husband and wife came into the Hammond Law Group law ofﬁce wanting to set up estate planning documents. The wife had terminal cancer. She wasn’t keen on coming in to sign these documents when she needed to rest, but she reluctantly came in to sign the documents and appease her husband. A few weeks after their documents were signed, we got a call from the wife saying that her husband had fallen and was now in a coma in the hospital. It had been a week and he hadn’t shown any signs of waking up. Doctors were recommending that he be removed from life support. The wife wasn’t sure what she should do, so she called Hammond Law Group. An attorney from the ﬁrm was able to come to the hospital with the documents and talk to the doctors and the wife to make sure the husband’s wishes were followed. A week later he woke up. A few months after that, she passed away. The documents that this couple set up with Hammond Law Group came into play in their lives in more ways than they ever thought they would. Because they spoke to an estate planning attorney about what they wanted to accomplish, they were able create the best plan for their lives and their future.
There are many options avail-able to set up an estate plan, but most people need either a will or a revocable living trust as the foundation of their estate plan. Your estate plan choice depends on your goals, the size of your estate, and the types of assets you own. If you own any real estate or at least $60,000 in other property and want to avoid probate, a living trust should be considered. Many people falsely believe that a will avoids probate and are surprised to discover that their families will endure a process typically taking between 9-24 months and costing an average of 3-4 percent of the gross value of their estate – that’s $15,000-$20,000 on a$500,000 estate! A living trust can not only help you avoid probate but also protect you in the case of incapacitation.
Well-drafted legal documents outlining your speciﬁc goals are important, but those documents are just a necessary bi-product to help accomplish your overall goal. An estate plan is created to accomplish many different goals, including distributing assets according to your wishes, naming an agent to act on your behalf if you become disabled, planning for children with special needs, and much more. It’s important to remember that a well-planned estate is not just for the beneﬁt of your own peace of mind. It will truly be a gift to your loved ones in the unexpected case of your incapacitation. When you have an estate plan in place and you pass away, your loved ones will have a map so there’s no wondering what your wishes were, just like our friends who came into Hammond Law Group years ago.
A qualiﬁed estate planning attorney can help you put your plans into place, giving you and your loved ones a sense of peace – don’t put it off!
Editor’s Note: This article was submitted by Catherine Hammond, founder of Hammond Law Group PC and an estate planning attorney in Colorado Springs and Centennial. For further information she can be reached at 719-520-1474, by email at info@ColoradoEstatePlan.com.