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Wills-Based Plans

At a minimum, everyone over the age of 18 should have a will-based plan. The will-based plan is ideal for someone looking to get the minimum documents in place to ensure that they have chosen the person that will manage their affairs and who should receive their assets upon their death.  As part of the will-based plan, I also offer the necessary legal documentation to address incapacity.

 

This type of plan is most appropriate for individuals or couples who have minimal assets, do not own real estate, and have no minor children. If you have minor children, substantial assets or your own real estate, this type of plan may be insufficient to accomplish your goals and a “Trust-Based” Plan will likely be recommended.  Regardless of the plan you choose, any plan of yours is better than no plan at all, so if budget considerations require you to start with a Will-based plan, I will help you put one in place and ensure that you understand the potential limitations of this plan, while helping you strategize on putting the most economical “Trust-Based” Plan in place should you need one.

Benefits of a Will-Based Plan

  1. You select the executor of your estate (the person that will manage your affairs after your death)

  2. You designate a guardian for your minor children and/or dependents

  3. You designate the beneficiaries that you want to receive your assets

  4. You appoint the person that you would want to make health care decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated

  5. You appoint the person that you would want to act on your behalf for financial matters if you are incapacitated

  6. You indicate the type of treatment that you would want regarding life support and your desires regarding organ donation

Limitations of a Will-Based Plan

  1. A will-based plan will require that your family go to court and handle your estate through the probate process. The probate process is a long process (oftentimes 12-18 months), it’s expensive, and it’s an entirely public process. If you would prefer that your family avoid having to go through Probate, a trust-based plan will be recommended.

  2. Though a will-based plan allows you to designate your beneficiaries, a will-based plan will not provide you with the flexibility to manage how your beneficiaries will receive your assets. For example, if you have minor children, would you want them to receive outright distributions of their full inheritance at the age of 18? A will does not allow for the flexibility to manage how your beneficiaries will receive their assets. Perhaps you would prefer to limit how their inheritance is used, such as for education, or structure a plan for them that involves distributions at certain ages (such as as dividing those assets for distribution at 25, 30, and 35 years old), or upon certain milestones, such as graduating from college. If you would prefer to avoid an outright inheritance being received at the age of 18, and instead provide guidelines as to how your beneficiaries receive their inheritance, a trust-based plan will be recommended.

  3. A will-based plan does not allow for creditor protection, if there is any concern that the inheritance that your beneficiaries would receive might be taken away by the creditors of your beneficiaries, a trust-based plan will be more appropriate to safeguard those assets - there is no creditor protection for assets received in a will-based plan.

 

The Will-Based Plan Includes:

  1. Last Will and Testament

  2. Durable Power of Attorney for Finances

  3. Advanced Healthcare Directive

  4. HIPAA Authorizations

  5. Nominations of Guardian (if there are minor children)

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