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A will is a legal document by which a person makes a distribution of property to take effect after death. A will may be modified or revoked during the lifetime of its maker.  It names a personal representatives or executors to oversee the implementation of your will. It names guardians or conservators who will care for your dependents and any property of your dependents. It can also name trustees, who will manage and property you direct to be held in trust.

A will is necessary to ensure that your wishes are honored after your death — including your choices of estate administrator, beneficiaries and guardians for your minor children. In many cases, careful preparation of a will can lessen death taxes. If your family includes a person with disabilities or an individual who may require long-term skilled care, you should seriously consider the use of a special needs trust.

A revocable living trust or often called “inter-vivos” trusts is an estate planning tool designed to avoid probate, ensure privacy and provide for a smoother and faster transition of your assets after you die.

Some of the benefits include:
-Saves time – avoids the lengthy probate process
-Saves money – avoids the legal fees associated with going through probate
-Privacy – your wishes and assets are not public record as they are when they go through probate.
-Provides asset protection for beneficiaries after you die (ie, can protect your kids’ inheritance in the event they go through a divorce or get sued)
-Can provide potential tax benefits 

When a someone passes away, property often goes through a court-managed process called probate in which the assets of the deceased are managed and distributed. The amount of time and the cost needed to complete probate depends on the size and complexity of the estate as well as the rules and schedule of the local probate court.

When someone passes away without having established a will, their estate will become intestate.  When an estate is intestate, it will be distributed according to the intestacy laws, not necessarily how the individual would want.

Every three years or after every major life event that could potentially change your heirs or the amount of assets in your estate plan. Your heirs may change when you get married or divorced, or even if your children and grandchildren marry and divorce. If a child or grandchild is born or adopted into the family, then you may want to include them in your estate plan.

You should also update your estate plan if there are any major asset gains including inheritance and business acquisition or sale. If you move, make sure to find out if your estate plan is valid in your state of residence.

Revocable Living Trust – avoids probate and can provide asset protection for your beneficiaries after your death.

General Durable Power of Attorney – allows an individual named by you to manage your financial affairs if you become incapacitated.

Living Will – lays out what medical procedures you want done to save your life and at what point you would want to be taken off of life support.

Health Care Power of Attorney – gives an individual named by you the power to make health care decisions for you if you become incapacitated.

HIPAA Authorization – authorizes individuals to receive your medical information from your health care provider. 

Appointment of Standby Guardian for Minor Children if applicable

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