You have spent a lifetime acquiring wealth. You do not want your efforts to get tied up in probate court or cause disputes among your family members. You would like your wealth to transfer seamlessly and uneventfully to your benefactors so it can strengthen the future generations that will have the privilege of calling you their ancestor.
Estate planning is not about preparing for your own death. It is about taking care of the people you cherish in life. And to do it correctly, you will likely need to create a few key legal documents. Perhaps you are making certain your property falls in the right hands in the event of your passing. Perhaps you are navigating the loss or incapacitation of a loved one. In either event, you will place yourself at a great advantage by familiarizing yourself with the following forms and their purposes.
A will is a legal document in which a testator expresses how their estate will be distributed among named beneficiaries in the event of their death.
In addition to identifying the individuals and charitable organizations that shall receive your property and other assets, your will can name a personal guardian for your minor children, an individual who will manage any property you might leave to said minors, and a personal representative who will ensure that the terms of your will are carried out.
In Utah, a will is not finalized until the testator has signed or acknowledged the legal document in front of two witnesses. The witnesses must similarly sign the will within a reasonable amount of time. If you die without a will in Utah, your property will be distributed in accordance with state intestacy laws. If the state fails to identify a single living relative by blood or by marriage, it will take ownership of your property.
A trust is created by the property owner (trustor) so they can transfer fiduciary duty to an individual or beneficiary (trustee). Trusts are frequently created by people who wish to leave money and/or property to a minor who is not yet responsible enough to manage it on their own.
Unlike a will, a trust does not go through probate. In effect, a trust can spare your beneficiary the expense, inconvenience and lengthy amount of time probate court often requires before they can assume control over your assets. Trusts are also popular because they can significantly reduce state or inheritance taxes, as well as determine how the trustor’s money will be managed and distributed after their passing.
Trusts commonly take one of two forms: living and irrevocable. Although they differ in several other legally significant ways, the key difference is this: a living trust can be modified to change terms and named beneficiaries, whereas an irrevocable trust cannot.
Power of Attorney
When you create a power of attorney, you (the principal) are giving another individual (the agent) authority to act on your behalf and exclusively to your benefit.
A power of attorney may grant your agent the legal right to manage your bank accounts, run your business, sell your property, and otherwise act just as you would have had you retained all of your cognitive faculties. It may also grant extremely limited rights, such as the ability to sell a single piece of property and nothing else.
Unlike certain other legal documents, a power of attorney does not necessarily negate the principal’s authority over their own affairs. For this reason it is seen as an effective measure against financial exploitation and abuse. Any adult can create a power of attorney provided they have the mental capacity to understand its purpose, although they do not have to comprehend how their agent will handle their financial affairs.
Advance Healthcare Directive
The advance healthcare directive is an appropriately named legal document. When you create one, you are effectively determining which types of medical care you will receive in the event that you become incapable of expressing your wishes.
A comprehensive advance healthcare directive will determine the medical care you would receive for treatable and terminal conditions alike. Many people create advance directives that instruct what they would like to happen to them in the event they become permanently or indeterminately unconscious. Your directive may also express your wish to not receive certain types of treatment.
It is not likely to create sound, reliable and effective estate planning documents without professional representation. If you wish to ensure that your wishes for your property and your medical care are followed in the event of your death or incapacitation, then we welcome you to contact Hillyard, Anderson & Olsen, P.C. in Logan, Utah today.