Estate planning is something many people don’t like to think about, but it is a necessary part of growing older. Hiring a lawyer to draft a will or trust is a smart move, as it will ensure all your bases are covered and that you have a legal document that will protect you and your assets. One of the main benefits of having an estate plan in place is that it helps ensure your final wishes are carried out after you pass away. Even though this is the case, a shocking 55 percent of Americans do not have a last will, leaving the fate of their assets in limbo and themselves at risk of unpleasant legal battles. As Oklahoma estate planning attorneys, we have the knowledge and experience necessary to draw up an estate plan that you are happy with and that is representative of what you want to happen to your assets in the event of your death. In addition to writing the will, estate planning attorneys at Atkins & Markoff will help you with tax, financial, and financial planning.
Before you meet with an estate planning attorney, it is important to educate yourself about what types of questions should be asked. Contrary to popular belief, estate planning doesn’t have to be morbid. If done correctly, it can be a life-affirming experience that enables you to take a closer look at the people in your life and what you want to happen to your assets after you pass away.
Let’s take a look at some of the top questions you should be prepared to ask an estate planning attorney. These should give you a good place to start and a better idea of how the entire process works.
- Does my will need to be updated? If you are one of the few who has been proactive with your estate planning and had a will drawn up at some point, it is important to check back in with that document from time to time to see if any adjustments need to be made. In many cases, your personal circumstances may have changed since the will was written, and in order to ensure the right parties are listed, your will should be looked over by an estate planning attorney. It is recommended that your review your will every two to three years or when major changes have occurred in your life.
- Is a revocable living trust a good idea for me? These types of trusts are oftentimes created in order to enable you to manage your assets while you are living. Your estate planning lawyer will draft the document and then give you the opportunity to retitle most of your assets in the name of the trust. You can then use the income, or principal if needed, from the trust during your lifetime in order to meet your needs. You can either appoint yourself as trustee or a trusted friend, family member, professional advisor, or banker, it’s up to your discretion.
- Do I need a living will or a medical power of attorney? These types of documents address health-related issues instead of financial ones. In most cases, a living will states your preferences regarding life-sustaining medical treatments if you become terminally ill or in a long-term vegetative state. On the other hand, a medical power of attorney allows you to name someone else to make medical decisions for you if you become incapacitated. The latter is much broader and gives more widespread control to the appointed person.
- Do my life insurance and retirement plan beneficiaries coincide with my estate plan? It is important to note that life insurance policies, annuities, IRAs, and other retirement plans are not controlled by your will; instead, they pass directly to the person you have named as beneficiary. Make sure you address these assets as part of your overall estate plan when drawing up the document.
Estate planning doesn’t have to be an overwhelming and rushed experience. If done right and approached with an educated mind, you will have a far better experience having your living will and estate plan drawn up by a knowledgeable attorney from Atkins & Markoff. To learn more about our estate planning services, contact our Oklahoma law firm today.