Estate planning is a big issue in the real estate world, and it’s something that touches everyone, regardless of whether or not you own property. On today’s blog, we’ve invited Steve Gizzi, the managing attorney at Gizzi & Reep, to talk to us about what kind of estate planning you need.
There’s no simple checklist for estate planning because it really depends on an individual’s stage of life. If you are a married couple or an individual who has children, the most important thing you need to do is to ensure you have Guardianship Provisions clearly established. Most often, that type of planning goes into a Will document. You establish that if you’re not here and your spouse or partner isn’t here, certain provisions are in place for your children. This is an important thing to have because in the absence of a Guardianship Provision, the state decides where your children will go. That’s not what you want. You want to give direction, and it’s the most important decision a parent can make. Decide where you want your minor children to be if something happens.
People who are a bit older and never had children or who have children that are grown, it’s more important to be concerned with Advanced Healthcare Directives, which most people know as a living will. This appoints an individual to give instructions about your care if you’re unable to give instructions yourself. These are usually final instructions and that person will act on your behalf. Another essential part of estate planning is Durable Power of Attorney, which is a very powerful document. When you are unable to make a decision due to a physical or mental incapacity, the person you appoint is empowered to make financial and other decisions for you. That person basically steps into your shoes and acts on your behalf.
Estate plans are important, no matter what stage of life you currently find yourself in. Most people will need, at a minimum, a Will, an Advanced Healthcare Directive and a Durable Power of Attorney. Depending on circumstances, you might also want to do a trust as well. That might include grant deeds to transfer assets into your trust.
As you can see, it pays to invest some money with an attorney up front so your needs are taken care of on the other end and your wishes are best handled. You never understand how important these things are until you need them.
If you have any questions about the information Steve has shared with us today, please contact us at Estey Real Estate and Property Management.