WILLS - Everyone has a will. If you haven't met with an attorney to craft a will, your assets will be distributed according to the governing statues of your state of residence; an administrator (who you may not know) may be appointed to oversee their distribution; and guardians (who you also may not know) may be appointed to make financial and life-cycle decisions on behalf of your minor, special needs or infirmed child.
A will is the first line of defense you have to provide instructions on how you would like to have your assets distributed, who should be appointed to oversee their distribution and who should be appointed as guardians on behalf of a minor, special needs or infirmed child.
LETTERS OF INSTRUCTION - A document crafted outside of the will which provides additional instructions to executors and heirs on the disposition of specific assets, family values statements and other matters not necessarily needed to be a part of the will. An attorney can explain what Letters of Instruction can and cannot do as well as how to craft them.
TRUSTS - Trusts are additional documents to help achieve personal and family financial goals. There are many kinds of trust which can be crafted to accomplish a variety of planning objective such as tax avoidance; asset protection; special needs issues; charitable goals; and family incentive planning. These are only some of the planning aspects a trust can address.
Trusts can be created while you are living or as a part of your will.
ADVANCED DIRECTIVES - Provide specific instructions on how you wish to be medically treated should you be unable to make those decisions on your own behalf. They include the appointment of a person or persons to make those decisions and also contain DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) instructions for a variety of situations.
Over the past few years many of the states have enacted specific language to be incorporated into Advanced Directives which is why it's important to seek the advise of a knowledgeable professional who can make sure your directives are properly crafted.
DURABLE POWERS OF APPOINTMENT - A Power of Appointment enables you to appoint a person or persons to make legal and financial decisions on your behalf when you are unable to make those decisions for a variety of reasons. Powers of Appointment can be 'Limited' to a specific set of circumstance or areas over which decisions can be made, or they can be 'General' powers which can cover a broad spectrum of areas and issues. A qualified professional can provide details on what they cover and how they work.
LIVING or ETHICAL WILLS - An informal document which often provides information and instructions to family members and heirs on beliefs, desires and personal concerns regarding a broad range of topics. It can span issues such as relationships, codes of conduct, charitable objectives, personal desires and beliefs as well as a host of other important subjects.
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