Many people seem to discount estate planning as being the exclusive realm of the extremely wealthy. While wealthy individuals are certainly well served by estate planning, similar benefits can also be derived by people who consider themselves to be in the middle class. The truth is that estate planning isn’t just about money. Estate planning concerns people, relationships, and protecting your wishes and desires. The simple fact of life is that no person knows where here she will be in five or 10 years down the road. If you or family member needs assistance creating a thorough estate plan, you should consult with an experienced Fayetteville estate planning attorney.
At Gunn Kieklak Dennis, LLP, our dedicated attorneys are ready to help you make an estate plan for the benefit of your family. You simply cannot conclusively know the changes that may take place in your life and in your family. Expressing your wishes through estate planning is a way to ensure that your wishes are respected even in the face of significant change. To schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your estate planning options, contact Gunn Kieklak Dennis, LLP at (479) 717-9068, or contact us online.
Writing a Will as Part of Your Estate Plan
In certain circumstances, your estate planning goals may be accomplished solely through a will. In other circumstances, a will may only make up one aspect of your estate plan. Regardless of the circumstances, a will is an important estate planning tool. It is also the most traditional approach to estate planning.
A will is a legal document that allows the drafter, also known as the testator, to determine how they want to distribute their assets and personal property. Having a will is important because if you pass away without a will or other estate planning measures, you will be unable to ensure that your wishes are carried out regarding the disposition of your property.
Dying intestate (without a will) means that the testator would be unable to control who receives the testator’s property after the testator passes away. In Arkansas, if a person dies intestate, their property will be distributed to their closing living family members, like a spouse or children of the decedent. If the decedent was not married or did not have children, the property may be given to the decedent’s parents. This process would continue until a suitable person inherited the property.
Intestacy laws often do not consider the special needs of family members or other unique circumstances when distributing the property of a decedent. That is why it is important to ensure you have a will if you wish to convey the property to a certain member of your family.
To create a valid will in Arkansas, a testator must be at least 18 years old and must possess a sound mind. Generally, having a sound mind means that the testator is aware of the property they own and understand the terms of the will they created. Additionally, two witnesses must observe the testator when he or she signs the will. Under certain circumstances, the witnesses may also have to sign the will.
Oral wills are not valid in Arkansas. However, a testator may create a handwritten will, also referred to as a holographic will. Holographic wills must be written entirely in the testator’s handwriting and must be observed by three disinterested and credible witnesses.
A will is an estate planning tool that can be used for several purposes. If you wanted to donate an endowment to a university or charitable organization, you could accomplish this with a will. However, one downside to utilizing a will is that, in most cases, the estate must pass through probate. However, under certain circumstances, an estate may be exempt from probate.
To learn more about estate planning and creating a trust, you should continue reading and speak with an experienced Arkansas estate planning lawyer.
Creating a Trust as Part of Your Estate Plan
Trusts are another legal tool that can be utilized as a part of an estate plan. While there are multiple types of trusts, many people opt to create a living trust. A living trust allows a person (grantor) to transfer their assets into the trust for the benefit of a third party beneficiary. A trustee then manages the assets in the trust. While the grantor can manage the trust personally, other close family members or even a legal entity could be named as a trustee.
A trust can be particularly useful in certain situations. Furthermore, a trust can also provide additional privacy as property placed into the trust will not pass through probate and therefore, will not become part of the public record. Trusts can vary significantly in complexity but can make up an essential part of a comprehensive estate plan.
Medicaid Planning, Advanced Healthcare Directives and Elder Care Concerns are Addressed
As we age, medical events can quickly and irrevocably alter our life and our living situation. In some cases, a stroke, heart attack, or other medical condition may require a loved one to live in a nursing or assisted living home. Unfortunately, nursing home care can cost more than $9,000 a month and individuals may believe that the only way that they can pay for it is by burning through their life savings. While many well-intentioned family members will give advice regarding how to qualify for Medicaid, this well-intentioned advice is often incorrect and places all that you have worked for in jeopardy. We can help you legally preserve your assets and qualify for Medicaid.
We can also assist with your living will or advanced healthcare directive. This document ensures that your medical wishes are carried out even if you are not able to express them. The document can account for your personal preferences or deeply held religious beliefs. Drafting a document of this type can take impossible decisions out of the hands of your loved ones during an incredibly stressful and trying time.
The lawyers of Gunn Kieklak Dennis, LLP can help you protect what and who is important to you. We can utilize an array of strategies depending on your situation. Some of the legal aspects of your estate plan may include:
- A will
- Powers of attorney
- Businesses succession planning
- Healthcare directives
- Charitable giving
- HIPPA Authorization
- Healthcare directives (living will)
Work with a Dedicated Estate Planning Attorney in Fayetteville, Arkansas
At Gunn Kieklak Dennis, LLP we understand how to import your wishes and beliefs are. Therefore, we work strategically and diligently to ensure that you have a customized estate plan that addresses all wishes and concerns that you express. We are proud to offer this legal service to all residents of our northwest Arkansas community. To schedule a confidential consultation at our law offices, conveniently accessed from the Fullbright Expressway, call us at 479-717-9068 today.