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Do you have an estate plan? You may believe that you do not need one, but in fact, everyone does. Estate planning is not just for people with a sizeable estate. Having a plan in place takes care of you and your family, by authorizing someone to assist with financial and medical decisions if you are incapacitated, identifying your wishes for end-of-life medical care, and designating details regarding the distribution of your assets upon your death. It also protects your assets against dissolution or distribution that may not be in keeping with your wishes.

What if you are young and you don’t have many assets? Do you still need to worry about estate planning? Yes, for several reasons. First of all, no one knows what the future holds. Regardless of your age, it is impossible to predict when you will die or if you will somehow become incapacitated. If you should become incapacitated, having an estate plan in place ensures that you have a power of attorney designating someone to manage your affairs in keeping with your wishes. Your estate plan will also include arrangements for disability income insurance to pay for your expenses if you cannot work and for life insurance to provide for your family in the event of your death.

Remember, an estate plan is not a one-time event. It’s an ongoing process that should be updated as your life changes. If you start a business, your estate plan can be updated to provide for its transfer when you retire, become disabled or incapacitated, or die. If you have children, your updated estate plan will name a guardian for them. It can also provide for loved ones who have special needs, or who might just need help managing money. A good estate plan will also minimize taxes, legal fees, and court costs, so that your beneficiaries receive as much of your estate as possible.

Your estate plan begins with a will or living trust. A traditional will outlines what happens to your assets when you die, and this may be all you need if you have less than $100,000 worth of assets. The drawback of a will is that it must go through probate before the assets can be distributed, and this can be time-consuming and expensive. A trust gives you more control over what happens to your assets, especially if you appoint a trustee to restrict how those assets can be used.

Many people prefer a revocable living trust, with a pour-over will. The trust is not subject to probate and can prevent court control of your assets if you become incapacitated. Having a trust that is revocable means you can change it at any time. The pour-over will is a backup measure, providing for assets that were not covered by your trust before you died. This will ensures that they will be “poured over” into your trust upon your death. If you have more than $100,000 in assets, you will likely need a revocable living trust, a pour-over will, a durable power of attorney, healthcare directives, and assignment of assets, to direct those assets into your trust.

Do you really need a lawyer for estate planning, when the paperwork can be found online? Can’t people just do this by themselves? It is possible, but it’s not advisable. Obviously, if you need advanced estate planning services because you own a business, are in a partnership with family members, or have some other special circumstances. However, even someone who just needs help with basic estate planning is better off hiring a lawyer. Accidental mismanagement of an estate plan can end up costing your family money in the long run. An expert attorney can make sure you are properly handling your estate planning, and that your documents will be sufficient meet your objectives.

If you are looking for an attorney to help you with estate planning in Utah, Richards & Richards Law Firm, P.L.L.C. is here for you. A full service law firm in Ogden, Utah, we are dedicated to easing your stress, protecting your rights, and getting you what you deserve. Our family-owned firm offers top-notch legal advice and provides the highest-quality professional legal services at an affordable price. No matter what legal services you need, we can help. We have more than 30 years of legal experience on our side, and we’re committed to focusing our full attention on the needs of each individual client, in order to achieve the best possible results for each case. Call us today at (512) 461-4836 or contact us through our website to schedule a legal consultation with our friendly, experienced, estate planning lawyers.