How to Create a Basic Estate Plan?

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Step1 Have a Will Prepared.

A will allows an individual to transfer his or her property to whomever he or she wants to receive it. The consequence of not having a will is that if you die intestate (without a will) then the state in which you live will determine who will receive your property. Frankly, who wants the state deciding who should receive your property.

Step 2  Have a Power of Attorney Prepared.

A power of attorney is a document that allows an individual to give someone authority to act on his or her behalf who is known as the attorney-in-fact. The power of attorney allows the agent to handle an individual’s financial matters.

The consequence of not having a power of attorney is if a person becomes incapacitated then someone will have to petition (ask) the Court to be appointed as Conservator to handle the incapacitated person’s financial affairs. This procedure is more costly and time consuming. Moreover, the Conservator will be under the supervision of the Court with respect to handling the incapacitated person’s money.

Generally, there are two types of Powers of Attorney. A Durable Power of Attorney is a power of attorney that is effective once it is signed by the principal (the person giving the power of attorney) and continues to be effective even after the principal becomes incapacitated.

Be careful who you give authority to act on your behalf under a Durable Power of Attorney because that individual can transfer your assets with or without your permission.

The second Power of Attorney is known as a Springing Power of Attorney. A Springing Power of Attorney comes into existence when an individual becomes incapacitated. In South Carolina, you need two physicians to make the determination that an individual is incapacitated. One of those physicians must be the attending physician for the incapacitated person. A lawyer will be able to assist you in determining what is required in your particular state for a Springing Power of Attorney.

Step 3 Have a Health Care Power of Attorney Prepared.

A health care power of attorney is a document that allows an individual to appoint someone to act on his or her behalf with respect to health care decisions. The person signing the health care power of attorney generally has three choices to make.

1) Save my life- this option directs the agent to use all measures
necessary to prolong the principal’s life regardless of cost.

2) Let me die-this option directs the agent to make sure that life
sustaining treatment is not provided.

3) You decide-this option directs that the agent make the decision
whether to provide or withhold life sustaining treatment.

Again, a lawyer will be able to help you decide what options are best for you.

The consequence of not having a Health Care Power of Attorney is if a person becomes incapacited then someone must petition (ask) the Court to be appointed as the Guardian. This is more expensive and time consuming. The Guardian would be responsible for making health care decisions for the incapacited person. The Guardian would be under the supervision of the Court.

Step 4 Have a Living Will prepared.

A Living Will is a document that gives direction to your doctor when you are in the dying process. Generally, a doctor must determine that a person is terminal. There are two general choices a person has to make.

1) If you are terminal, then you must decide whether you want nutrition
and hydration or do you want it withheld.

2) If you are in a persistent vegetative state or other permanent
unconsciousness you must decide whether you want nutrition and
hydration or do you want it withheld.

Step 5 Purchase Adequate Life Insurance.

Life insurance is to replace the income of the person who has passed away. There needs to be enough insurance to do the following: bury the deceased person, payoff the mortgage, payoff debts of the deceased person, provide for the children‘s eduation and provide the family with enough money to live.

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