Less than 50% of people with a salary of $80,000 or more have any estate planning documents, and up to 71.6% of Americans don’t have an up-to-date will. While estate planning may seem unnecessary when you’re in good health, not having an up-to-date will can cause a whole slew of problems in the event of a tragedy. Your assets may not be distributed the way you would like in the event of your passing, or if you become incapacitated, your choice of medical care may not be the choice you would prefer.

Why Is Estate Planning Important?

Estate planning is essential for ensuring your financial and medical choices are respected. Even for Americans with few assets, it is recommended to have your affairs in some type of order. It is also recommended to understand the basics of the process when you decide to proceed with estate planning.

That said, here are three essentials for estate planning to help you feel more prepared when the time comes to contact an estate planning lawyer.

  1. Will: A will is your executor’s guide to your final wishes. Your executor is who you have chosen to act on your behalf in the event of your passing. In your will, you will decide who receives what after your passing such as real property, personal items, finances, and gifts to charities. However, it is important to note that your will cannot avoid the law or the probate process.
  2. Probate: The probate process is the process the court uses to settle your estate. Even the smallest of estates may need to go through probate. This is essentially the judicial process during which the court analyzes and accepts your will as a valid and legal document, then ensures that your debts are paid and your bequests are fulfilled. Depending on the state, various fees are associated with the probate process. Typically, probate expenses range at about 10% of your estate’s value and they can sometimes take years to process. An estate planning lawyer can help make the probate process easier so you are not leaving your loved ones with a legal headache along with their grief after your passing.
  3. Power of Attorney: An executor is not the same as a Power of Attorney. An executor oversees your affairs according to your will after you have passed. A Power of Attorney handles your finances and medical decisions while you are still living but unable to make choices for yourself. There are two Powers of Attorney (POA): the Financial POA and the Medical POA. A Financial POA will assist in handling financial decisions if you are not mentally or physically able to make them yourself. A Medical POA acts on your behalf regarding medical preferences if you are mentally or physically unable to make your preferences known.

If you are seeking an estate planning lawyer in Charlotte, NC, the law offices of Conrad Trosch & Kemmy can assist in your estate planning and probate proceedings. To learn more about estate planning and how it can help you plan for the future, contact our estate planning lawyers to schedule your consultation today.

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