Don’t Play Games with Your Legacy:
How to Keep It Strong – Now and Forever
While we’ve previously discussed fun, Do-It-Yourself ways to preserve and pass on your legacy, there are some techniques that are best left to professionals. We’ve all heard about DIY legal services available online. Remember, however, your legacy is not a game; your business and estate plan, your assets and heirlooms, and your loved ones – these are not game pieces to be played with. Sure, you can create an estate plan, start a business or complete a Medicaid application with tools found online or through the latest app, but your life and your goals do not fit generic forms or one-size-fits-all models. The fact is that every person, family and business is unique, with very specific dynamics, concerns and goals. An estate planning attorney can take these into account and provide customized planning capable of meeting your goals and anticipating potential problems down the road. An estate planning attorney might use one of these five common tools to preserve your legacy:
- Power of Attorney: This document ensures that someone you trust is appointed as your Power of Attorney for Healthcare or Power of Attorney for Financial Matters, and you provide the directive about how your medical and financial decisions will be made if you are unable to make them for yourself. If you don’t plan ahead, someone you don’t fully trust could make decisions for your life and your loved ones that you would never agree with.
- Last Will & Testament: A Will is a legal document that controls the distribution of property after you pass away. A Will can help you accomplish all of the following goals:
- Name a guardian and/or conservator for your minor children.
- Determine who receives your assets after you pass away, rather than the state making this decision for you based upon established guidelines for asset distribution.
- Name the person or institution you want to manage your estate after you pass away.
- Trusts: There are a number of different types of trusts, capable of helping you accomplish a wide range of planning goals. These include Asset Protection Trusts, Special Spousal Trusts, and other Irrevocable and Revocable Trusts. One of the most commonly used trusts, the Revocable Living Trust, provides the following benefits and more:
- Avoid probate. This is important because probate is typically a time-consuming, frustrating and needlessly expensive legal process. Probate also exposes your financial situation and family matters to the public.
- Adjust for changes in your family and financial situation.
- Reduce challenges to your final wishes and better ensure your beneficiaries receive what you have intended for them.
- Allow for separation of assets, which may be useful for tax purposes and protecting assets.
- Provides for ongoing financial management, during life and at death.
- Business Succession Planning: An attorney can use cutting-edge legal and tax planning techniques to help guide business owners in making prudent business, financial and personal decisions and also plan for the next step. It is important to create a sustainable and lasting business that provides you with reassurance that your business’s legacy, and your own, will last into the future.
- Ethical Wills: Although an ethical will is not a legal document that distributes your property, it is rather a written letter that shares with your loved ones your values and beliefs. An ethical will may have a greater impact on your loved ones because it preserves who you are, how you will be remembered, and your wishes for others.
These are just a few of the options that can keep your legacy intact if you would become incapacitated or pass away. By preparing for the unexpected, you are caring for your family, your business, your passions and dreams, and, ultimately, for your legacy. At Legacy Law Firm, we would be honored help you safeguard what is important to you.
As you follow your day-to-day activities and errands, running from work to the grocery store, the pharmacy and little league games, we encourage you to preserve your legacy now. Why wait? The legacy you are building is worth protecting and preserving now.
Why not call us to schedule a free consultation to learn more about creating or preserving your legacy or the legacy of a loved one? Please contact Legacy Law Firm, P.C. at (605) 275-5665 to schedule your free consultation today.