Estate Planning Attorneys in Hot Springs, Arkansas Helping Families Plan for the Future
The term “estate” calls up images of mansions and villas, or maybe a yacht or two. In reality, your estate is simply the total of your assets and possessions at the time of your death. Your estate need not be a large one for you to benefit from estate planning. A comprehensive estate plan deals not only with financial issues but also with such questions as who will care for your minor children should something happen to you and who will make decisions for you if you are incapacitated.
Protecting assets is not just for rich people, either. Most of us are likely to need long-term care when we are older, and estate planning can help ensure that your family can preserve your home and can be provided for if you have to go into a nursing home, as well as after you pass away. A comprehensive estate plan has many parts. The lawyers at Dudeck Law Firm have focused our practice on estate planning and elder law, so we have the skill and experience needed to explain all of your options and help you choose the best strategy for your particular situation.
Call Dudeck Law Firm today at 501-327-3527 to begin protecting your family’s future.
What are the Main Elements of a Good Estate Plan?
While every situation is different, there are some basic components that should be in every estate plan:
- Wills and Trusts: These documents allow you to direct the distribution of your assets after you are deceased. A will can also name a guardian for your minor children, should both parents die or become unable to care for them.
- Durable Power of Attorney: This document names the person whom you have chosen to conduct your financial affairs and make legal and financial decisions should you become incapacitated, both during your incapacity and after your death.
- Health Care Power of Attorney: This document designates the person whom you have chosen to make medical decisions for you if you are unable due to illness or injury.
- Advance Directive for Healthcare (Living Will): This document will make clear to your family, your doctors, and the person to whom you have granted your healthcare power of attorney any wishes you may have about your treatment or care while in a medical or long-term care facility.
- HIPAA Authorization: Your health care providers are not allowed to share any medical information with anyone unless you have given your permission. A HIPAA authorization document spells out exactly who you would like to allow to get updates on your condition and speak directly with your doctors and providers.
- Beneficiary Designations: In the case of life insurance policies, retirement accounts, or investment accounts, designating a beneficiary or beneficiaries will allow those assets to be transferred directly to the beneficiary upon your death.
- Letter of Intent: A personal letter of intent is a letter written to the executor whom you have chosen to administer your estate outlining any specific instructions or wishes that you would like them to follow.
What Could Happen if I Don’t Have an Estate Plan?
If you fail to plan your estate in advance, a number of things could happen that you would probably prefer to avoid. Without a will, your estate will have to go through the probate process, which can be expensive and time-consuming, and the court will appoint an executor to administer the will, as well as a guardian for any minor children. You will have no say in who is chosen. Without the durable and health care powers of attorney, there will be no one to make important financial and medical decisions if you are incapacitated and no one authorized to conduct your financial affairs. Again, a court will appoint someone for you, whom you may or may not have ever met. Without the appropriate trusts, your assets may not be protected from creditors, including the Medicaid Estate Recovery Program, which is required by law in every state to attempt to recover funds paid out for medical or long-term care by seizing and liquidating some or all of the assets of the Medicaid recipient after they die.
If you want to have any say at all in who manages your affairs, makes decisions for you, cares for your children, and how your assets are distributed after your death, you must have a comprehensive estate plan in place.
Do I Need an Attorney for Estate Planning?
While the internet is full of ads saying that you can just print out generic forms and fill them out to create the estate planning documents you need, this is a very risky practice. Laws vary from state to state, and there are multiple ways to make mistakes if you are creating these documents on your own. By doing these things yourself, you risk creating documents that are invalid and will not hold up in a court of law, which could cause untold headaches and conflict for your loved ones. You could make an error that fails to protect your family home, for example, so that your loved ones could be left out in the cold without you there to take care of them. Estate planning is serious business, and it is in your best interest to employ professional estate planning attorneys who know all the ins and outs of estate planning specific to Arkansas.
Why Should I Hire a Dudeck Law Firm for My Estate Planning?
At Dudeck Law Firm, we have made estate planning and elder law the main focuses of our practice. We have helped thousands of clients like you ensure that their families will be taken care of and that their wishes will be honored, even if they are unable to speak for themselves. Our skilled and experienced estate planning attorneys stand ready to assist you with all of your estate planning needs. Call Dudeck Law Firm today at 501-327-3527 to discuss your estate planning strategy.