When There’s a Will There’s a Way
The old joke is that wherever there’s a will, there’s a relative. But what is estate planning? Who needs to do it? What are the benefits of planning your estate (or not doing so)?
The simple answer? A will says what happens to your stuff after you die, and it can also say who will care for your children. There is always a plan in place for the distribution of your assets after your death. It’s either the plan you create…or the plan that the State of Nebraska already has in place for you, without a care for your input or wishes. An estate plan can also provide for you while you are still living. For example, an estate plan can provide for healthcare decision-making in the event of your incapacity, financial decision making, and asset protection.
People don’t want to think about the things that force them to face their own mortality. But as we all know, life is a finite condition. If you want your wishes to be respected after you pass (and before), they must be presented in such a way that the courts will recognize and follow them. Hence, the need for an estate plan!
What Are the Some Estate Planning Tools?
- Wills. These documents transfer property ownership to loved ones directly; declare guardians for minor children or those in the deceased’s care; and generally serve as a statement of how the deceased wants his or her estate to be divided up. In order to be valid, wills in Nebraska require that there be at least two witnesses; that the writer of the will (testator) be at least 19 years old; and that he or she be mentally competent at the time the will was created. The will only becomes effective after the testator’s death.
- Living Wills. A living will is essentially a plan put in place for your future healthcare wishes, made while you are able to make sound decisions. This gives you the control and authority to predetermine what life-saving treatments you will be given in a situation where you are unable to give consent or refuse treatment. If, for example, you don’t want to be kept alive under certain conditions, the living will allows you to make clear your instructions to your treating physicians.
- Powers of Attorney. Financial and Healthcare Powers of Attorney can name the people who are allowed to receive your medical information, or who may be allowed to make financial or healthcare decisions on your behalf.
- Trusts. These help your beneficiaries to avoid probate. Trusts put the ownership of your assets into a protected fund, which spells out precisely what is to happen to your things upon your death. There are many types of trusts, and setting one up can be complicated, but most of the time, they are well worth it!
Where there’s a will (to make a will), there’s certainly a way! If you have any questions or want to know more about the estate-planning process, we can help. Our legal team at Bottlinger Law L.L.C. is experienced and qualified to advise you. Whether you’re interested in a will or a trust, or both, call us for a free consultation at (402) 505-8234.