Beckley Estate Planning

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Estate planning is an important process to protect your personal well-being, the benefits you want to leave to your loved ones, and your estate. Although some believe estate planning only benefits those who are wealthy, estate planning can benefit you if you have any belongings, personal property, or other assets. It is also worthwhile if you have wishes for how your loved ones should inherit those assets. Working with the right Beckley estate planning attorney can enable you to create a plan that addresses your own goals.

Creating an estate plan is not always easy, and it addresses potentially overwhelming topics, such as affairs after your death or while you are incapacitated. Discussing these issues and creating an effective plan of protection can be easier with a compassionate and skilled legal professional at your side. It also helps ensure your estate planning documents are enforceable, keeping your wishes intact.

Tailored Estate Planning in Beckley

An estate plan can provide you and your loved ones with significant benefits, but only if the plan is enforceable. If your will or trust is found invalid by the court or is vulnerable to contests, this increases the cost and time your loved ones spend managing your affairs. Estate planning law can be complex, and a knowledgeable attorney is crucial to creating a strong and straightforward plan.

At Wooton, Davis, Hussell & Johnson, PLLC, we help individuals and families in our community plan for their futures and the futures of their loved ones. With decades of legal experience as leaders in the field of estate planning, our attorneys can help you review your current and future needs and how they can be addressed with an estate plan.

We help you understand the different estate planning documents so that you can make informed decisions about the formation of your estate plan. Whether you are in need of a simple or complex estate plan, we can help.

The Basic Elements in an Estate Plan in Beckley

An estate plan can be simple or complex, depending on your personal needs, the stage you are at in life, the assets within your estate, your plans for the future, and the needs of your intended beneficiaries. A good estate plan and estate planning attorney should adapt to your goals. Although every estate plan should be tailored to your needs, there are some common documents used in estate planning. These include:

1. A Will

Your last will and testament is one of the most common and basic elements of an estate plan. If you do not have a will, your estate is distributed based on the state’s succession laws. You do not have control over who gets what in your estate. You also will not have control over who administers your estate.

A will does many things, including listing the assets in your estate and how they will be distributed. It also names an executor to administer the will after your death and follow the wishes you left. It may also list your preferences for burial or cremation and list how debts or funeral expenses will be paid for. Your will can also list a guardian for minor children, who will look after them and their portion of the estate until they are of age.

Your will can be altered and updated throughout your life as your wishes change. A will cannot, however, avoid probate court. Avoiding probate court is an important goal for many individuals creating an estate plan.

2. A Living Will

A living will, also called an advance directive, lists instructions for your care while you are still alive. If you are in an accident and become incapacitated or are incapacitated due to old age, you may not be able to state your wishes. A living will enables you to make those statements beforehand, including your spiritual wishes for healthcare, how to handle end-of-life care, your wishes for pain management, and where you would like to receive medical care.

3. Trusts

Like a will, a trust enables you to list your assets in your estate and the beneficiaries you would like to receive them. Trusts also keep those assets out of probate court, and this makes the transfer of assets faster, more private, and less expensive. A trust can also stipulate terms for the use of a trust’s assets.

When you create a trust, you are considered the grantor of the trust, but you may also be considered the trustee if you name yourself the trustee. Many individuals name themselves as the trustee and then name the successor trustee as the individual whom they wish to administer the trust after their death.

There are two types of trust: revocable and irrevocable. A revocable or living trust can be altered whenever you want to reflect your wishes. You have full control over your assets throughout your life. A revocable trust becomes irrevocable after your death.

An irrevocable trust is a trust that can’t be altered as easily as a revocable trust. In order to modify or terminate an irrevocable trust, the court must approve the changes. The court will only approve them if all beneficiaries and the grantor of the trust agree to the change.

You can create trusts for many types of purposes. People create trusts to contribute to the care of their pets, to control how a beneficiary can use the assets they are given, or to enable a beneficiary who receives benefits to inherit without jeopardizing those benefits.

4. Powers of Attorney

When you create power of attorney documents, it gives someone the legal authority to make certain decisions on your behalf if you are unable to. These documents can list those specific circumstances and the person’s specific legal powers.

In estate planning, the most common use of power of attorney is to give someone the ability to make financial or legal decisions if you are incapacitated. This ensures that important bills are paid and property issues are managed even if you are incapable of doing so.

Powers of attorney can also cover medical decisions. Often, you name a medical power of attorney within your living will, who then is able to make decisions for your healthcare following the instructions you left in your advance directive.

Creating powers of attorney can provide you with some certainty about how you will be cared for if you cannot make those choices and the knowledge that your affairs will be in good hands. Your estate planning attorney can help you determine which powers are useful to include in your power of attorney documents and choose the trusted professional, friend, or family member you wish to have those powers.

Benefits of a Well-Crafted Estate Plan

There are many benefits to creating a personalized estate plan.

One of the primary benefits of a comprehensive estate plan is the ability to avoid probate court. Probate is how the state inventories and settles your estate. It is a process that can take months to years, and it can be costly for your beneficiaries. Your beneficiaries cannot access the assets you leave to them until probate is completed. The process is also very public.

With no estate plan at all, you have zero control over the distribution of your estate. The assets in your estate are distributed according to intestate succession laws, and if you do not have relatives, the state receives the assets. With only a will, the costs of probate still impact your beneficiaries. Having only a will also makes the will more vulnerable to contests and disputes.

There are options in West Virginia for small estates to avoid probate, but this will not apply to every estate. By using trusts and other specific estate planning techniques, you can avoid the probate process and ensure your loved ones get through the process quickly.

There are other benefits to creating an estate plan. These include:

  1. Giving Your Family More Benefits: Estate planning can protect your assets from certain taxes and even creditors in some cases. This way, your beneficiaries and loved ones receive more financial benefits.

Your estate could also avoid the costs of probate in some cases, providing your loved ones with more benefits. If your loved ones have specific needs, your estate plan can address them. A strong estate plan may also give your family a sense of peace and ensure that your wishes for your estate are being followed, saving them stress and time in the form of familial arguments.

  1. Protecting Your Personal Interests: Creating a living will and providing powers of attorney ensures you are taken care of in a situation where you become incapacitated or incapable. You are able to make decisions in advance for your own care and can know you will be in good hands.
  1. Safeguarding Your Estate: Estate planning not only protects your assets after your death but also throughout your life. It preserves them for your own needs as well as the needs of your beneficiaries.

Finding the Right Legal Support for Your Estate Plan

Establishing an estate plan can help you feel more at peace with your future. The attorneys at Wooton, Davis, Hussell & Johnson, PLLC, want to help you navigate the creation of these documents to ensure they fit your wishes. Whether you plan to establish a will, create a more comprehensive estate plan, or update an existing plan, we can help. Contact our firm today.

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