Estate Planning Attorney Lexington, KY
As people age, their focus tends to shift from taking care of themselves to ensuring their loved ones are cared for after they are gone.
Estate planning encompasses both of these intentions. Your estate should be organized so your specific wishes are met in case of grave illness or accident and after you have passed. Good estate planning involves drafting a will, setting up a plan to make certain your health care wishes are followed, and protecting the assets you’ve worked hard for.
Having an estate plan is a good idea for everyone, regardless of age or health status. It is particularly important if you have children who are minors. The best time to start estate planning is now, while you have the capacity to do so. When you’re ready to discuss developing such a plan for you and your family, a Kentucky estate planning attorney at our firm is here for you. We understand that every client’s personal, family and economic goals are unique, and we work hard to ensure the finished product provides you with peace of mind. It’s a good feeling, knowing you’ve done right by yourself and your loved ones.
Estate Planning Basics
The term “estate” refers to all property that a person owns or controls. This includes:
- Real property and the things attached to it (houses, buildings, barns, etc.)
- Personal property (vehicles, bank accounts, stocks and bonds, cash, furniture, jewelry, collectibles, etc.)
- Businesses and business interests (inventory, tools, equipment, accounts receivable, etc.)
- Life insurance and annuity contracts, pension benefits, IRAs, 403(b)s, etc.
- Debts and obligations owed to others
- All claims the person has against others, such as for the pain and suffering from a motor vehicle accident.
While estate planning certainly benefits people with large estates, planning ahead also benefits those with modest assets. Anyone who creates an estate plan ensures their property will be distributed according to their personal wishes and that distribution will be possible with a minimum amount of delay.
Distribution of the property that you own at death can be planned in advance through either a will or a trust. If you die without having a valid will or trust, then your assets are divided in a specific order among your relatives in keeping with Kentucky statutes, which are known as “intestacy laws.”
Wills and Other Tools
Wills are the most common estate planning documents and set forth who inherits your property. Wills can also have other purposes, such as appointing a guardian for your minor children or specifying your funeral arrangements. Other estate planning tools can provide for a durable financial power of attorney, which appoints someone to handle your finances when you can no longer look after them yourself. Beyond financial issues, a good estate plan addresses personal directives to carry out your health care wishes through a living will or a durable medical power of attorney.
A Kentucky Estate Planning Attorney at Bunch & Brock can draft documents that are customized to meet your unique needs, including:
- Assisted living and advanced health care directives — Outlining your desires for future healthcare and medical intervention, these documents are welcomed by both family members and caregivers. If the time comes when you are no longer able to make decisions regarding care and treatment needs, advanced planning provides a detailed blueprint of your wishes.
- Financial powers of attorney – These documents delineate the individual(s) you trust to act on your behalf in time of need, handling your financial affairs should you become incapacitated. A financial POA can be used for a specific need or to grant a chosen individual durable (ongoing) financial authority.
- Medical powers of attorney – This tool grants legal authority to someone, usually a family member, who can make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so. The documents address a variety of emergency scenarios, such as temporary loss of consciousness after an accident.
- Wills, living wills, and testamentary trusts – In addition to a will to disburse your property and provide for minor children, you may want to have a living will, which directs your healthcare if you are in end-stage illness. A testamentary trust can be used to place some or all of your assets in a trust, providing managed funds to support a child or other needy family member.
- Revocable and irrevocable trusts – A trust designates a “trustee” to manage your assets for the benefit of one or more beneficiaries. The terms “revocable” and “irrevocable” pertain to your degree of control over the assets in question and whether or not the funds remain protected from potential seizure or taxation.
- Family limited partnerships and limited liability companies – Business owners can use an FLP to create a plan for dividing assets and control of a family business, thus avoiding probate delays and expenses. An LLC can also include plans to transfer assets and control of a family-owned entity — and eliminate death taxes.
- Insurance planning and life insurance trusts – Depending upon the type and duration, a life insurance policy can provide generously for heirs or simply ensure emergency payment of funeral expenses and other essentials. A life insurance trust keeps policies in a trust in order to reduce estate taxes and to provide for a trustee to manage paid out benefits.
- Business succession planning – For business owners, succession planning can make the difference between a desirable transition and the disastrous loss of a valuable asset. This plan lays out directives for the business in the event of your death or disability and can also be used for retirement planning.
About “Death Taxes”
The term “death tax” refers to estate taxes and inheritance tax. The state and federal government can assess estate taxes against the net value of the deceased’s estate, while inheritance taxes are a form of state income tax for heirs.
Estate taxes will not be an issue for many people in Kentucky. Federal taxes apply only to multimillion- dollar estates (the current cut-off being $11,180,000), and Kentucky does not assess state estate taxes at all. Kentucky also waives inheritance taxes for a spouse, children, parents or siblings. The state does assess taxes for other heirs, however.
How an Estate Planning Attorney in Lexington, KY Can Help You
The importance of estate planning cannot be overstated. Whatever your net worth, it is important to have a basic estate plan in place. The rules of estate planning are complex and can be difficult to understand. It is advisable to consult a estate planning attorney who can help you organize your assets and identify your goals.
For the past 35 years, the Fayette County estate lawyers at Bunch & Brock have guided many people through the estate planning process efficiently and effectively. Put our experience to work for you. Contact us today by calling 859-353-6883, or fill out this online form to request contact from our firm.