An estate plan for a single person includes:
An estate plan for married couple includes:
A deed leaves your home to whomever you want to receive your home following your death. You can change or revoke this deed at any time. No probate is necessary.
A durable power of attorney is a legal document that gives authority to a person you name (your attorney-in-fact) to make health care decisions and also to manage your property and assets in the event you become incapacitated. You can place restrictions on their powers.
Every estate plan is required to have a last will and testament. Strangely enough, the last will and testament will not be used in most cases because you will have titled everything you own to avoid probate.
However, should you forget to title something so that it will avoid probate, then your last will and testament will determine who receives that property.
A revocable living trust is an estate planning document that avoids probate and is private in nature.
You can control whom receives your property and assets from the grave. You can be very specific on whom and when a person receives your property and the amounts they receive from you. Your property can be distributed in a lump sum following your death or over a period of years or when a beneficiary attains a certain age, for example, 35 years old.
A revocable living trust also protects the people who receive your property from having the property or assets they receive from you attached for most debts such as credit card debts, non-payment of rent or mortgage and other creditors.
A special needs trust is usually for a handicapped person and the purpose of it is to allow them to receive Medicaid while still having assets that can be used to make their life more enjoyable and fulfilling.
In a special needs trust, if the person qualifies for Medicaid to pay for a care facility or treatment, they can still have assets but those assets will be distributed to them strictly according to Medicaid eligibility law by the special needs trust Trustee.
In short, the Trustee will distribute the funds to the handicapped person in a manner that will not disqualify them from receiving Medicaid.
A guardianship is a legal proceeding whereby someone is named guardian over another person who is handicapped or has an injury or illness such as dementia or Alzheimer's. The guardian will make health care and financial decisions and will manage the incapacitated person’s property and assets for them.
A guardianship requires a petition to be filed and a court hearing. A doctor must also write a report stating the person is in need of a guardian because they cannot properly handle their health care decisions as well as their assets and property or they are a danger to themselves or others.
If the court grants the guardianship, then the guardian will be in charge of the incapacitated or mentally handicapped person’s property and assets and health care and the guardian can also place them in a care facility for treatment and consent to medications and surgery for the incapacitated person.
This is an agreement that is negotiated between the parties prior to the marriage taking place.
Both parties must fully disclose all of their assets and debts to the other party. Each party must also have their own attorney. The parties intending on marriage make an agreement as to what assets they and their spouse (or their estate) will receive and what debts they and their spouse will pay in the event of a legal separation, divorce or death.
A premarital agreement is almost never a good idea for a young couple entering a first marriage but it is a very good idea for middle aged or older people entering their second or third marriage who have children from a prior relationship or marriage or who want to preserve the assets they had at the time of their marriage.
The agreement can preserve their assets for them or their children in the event of a legal separation, divorce or death.