Why do I need estate planning?
Simply put, effective estate planning is the best way to ensure that you will be able to control your property while you’re alive and well, provide for your loved ones and yourself if you become disabled, and leave your assets when you die to whom you want, when you want, the way that you want.
Every state has laws that govern what becomes of your assets if you die or become disabled; the probate laws of Nebraska are different from those of other states. But the government also allows you to establish your own set of rules that supersede those laws, if you so choose. The process of establishing your rules is called estate planning. So, for instance, while the state may require your will to go through probate, you can choose to spare your heirs this sometimes drawn–out legal process. But you can only do it through estate planning.
What is a Will?
A will is a legal document that deals specifically with the distribution of your assets after your death.
What is a Trust?
Here is the Feller Law Office explanation: A trust is like the little red wagon you had when you were a child. Silly answer? Think about it…
Imagine for a moment that all of your assets are boxes – your home is a box, your car is a box, your bank account is a box, and so on. You are carrying this stack of “boxes” in your hands as you walk through life. If you should trip and fall (i.e. die or become disabled), what happens to the “boxes”? They fall all over the place, and you need a lawyer to help you gather them all up. If you’re alive and disabled, the “boxes” are picked up with a power of attorney. If you’re dead, they can be picked up with your will, though your heirs will have to go to probate court.
You can avoid all that with a trust. When you establish a trust, it’s like getting a little red wagon to put your “boxes” (or assets) in. They all fit inside the wagon, nice and snug. You have total control over what goes in the wagon, where it goes, etc. If you want to take it from Dean Witter over to Citigroup, that’s up to you, because it’s your wagon and you’re the one pulling it around. And if something should happen to you, the only thing you drop is the handle. The “boxes” (your assets) are all still safely tucked inside the wagon.
Now, attached to the handle of the wagon is a book of instructions. These instructions spell out in very specific terms what you want to have happen if you can no longer control your wagon full of assets. That is what a trust is – it’s your book of instructions that keeps your assets together, and establishes a plan for what happens to them if you should become incapacitated.
Why should I go to Feller Law Office to establish a trust?
Not all trusts are created equal. Because our firm is a member of the MPS™ network, we are authorized to use the specialized trusts MPS™ has developed for Asset Protection and Medicaid planning. These are unique legal documents that provide for the protection and preservation of your assets, with specific attention to the requirements of Medicaid qualification. Only MPS™ member firms can offer you the benefits of these trademarked trusts.
What is a Health Care Power of Attorney or Health Care Proxy?
It is a document that empowers someone else to make health care decisions for you in the event that you have lost the capacity to make those decisions yourself, due to some disability. Bear in mind that, in many states, the decision of whether or not to administer care to someone who is incapacitated automatically defaults to the physician, not the spouse…unless you have it in writing that you want someone else to have that power. Having Feller Law Office prepare a health care power of attorney or proxy for you is a good way to ensure that your decisions are being implemented by someone you trust…and that your specific wishes with respect to medical intervention are spelled out in unambiguous detail.
What is a Durable Power Of Attorney?
A power of attorney is a document that authorizes someone else to make legal decisions on your behalf in the event you are unable to make them yourself – decisions and actions such as paying bills, selling real estate, accessing bank accounts, and so on. With a Durable Power of Attorney, the legal authority is still valid after you become disabled.
Bear in mind that power of attorney documents are valid when signed, kind of like a blank check. One important goal of this designation is to provide specific instructions consistent with your estate plan, so that important planning decisions you have made cannot be undone through use of power of attorney. For more details, contact us today.
I can buy a Power of Attorney form at the office supply store for a couple of bucks. Why should I go to you?
The power of attorney form you buy at a stationery store is just the basic, standard form. It does not accommodate your wishes in any detail. When Feller Law Office prepares a power of attorney document for you, it is custom tailored to your purposes, with specific instructions for your agent with respect to a broad range of planning issues, including:
- the creation of trusts
- asset protection for your spouse before and after your death
- asset protection for your children from creditors or divorce
- prevention of business failure
- information about finances and distributions
- instructions on privacy
- …and more.
The result is a detailed legal document of the type you cannot obtain off the shelf at the local store.