Squirreling away money for retirement, planning for vacations or major purchases, setting up a college fund for the kids—chances are, you already have taken steps to plan ahead. But your future planning is not complete if it does not include arrangements for what will become of your estate after your passing. Estate planning can seem like a burdensome task, governed by complex laws. With some basic guidelines in mind, those tackling estate planning in Nebraska can take on the task with confidence.
Why you need a will
A will is a legally binding document that includes the details of what you would like to become of your property and responsibilities after your death. It might include:
- How you would like assets divided and to whom you would like them distributed
- Charitable donations you may wish to make posthumously
- Provisions for children and other dependents
- Who you would like to be the executor of your estate
If you die without a will, or intestate, the state gets to decide these things for you. Not only might the state’s choices not line up with your own, but the process also can be lengthy and confusing, disputes may arise and it could be years before property passes to your heirs.
Probate in Nebraska
Even with a will in place, your property may have to go through a complicated and sometimes costly legal process called probate before it transfers to your heirs. Fortunately, there are ways to avoid probate in Nebraska. Assets do not have to go through probate if they are:
- Secured in a living trust
- Jointly owned
- In an account with a named beneficiary or pay- or transfer-on-death designation
Be sure to review and update account and trust information regularly, especially as you acquire new assets.
Protecting your finances
For most of us, our personal finances are exactly that: personal. But it is wise to have a plan in place in case there comes a time when someone needs to act on your behalf and make financial decisions and transactions for you. This may include a medical emergency, but it also could apply to situations in which you may be out of the country or otherwise unavailable. You can grant financial power of attorney to someone you trust—and you can even set limits on what that person can do and clearly define what circumstances specifically apply.
Ensuring your health care
It may be hard to consider a time when you may be unable to make crucial choices about your health care. But not having a plan in place can make a difficult time even more painful for your loved ones. If you feel strongly about things such as life support, you can spell out your wishes in a living will or advance medical directive. You also can designate a certain individual to make medical choices on your behalf under certain circumstances. This is called medical power of attorney.
Once you have will, powers of attorney, advance directives and other major pieces of your estate plan, it is time to start filling in other details such as:
- Life insurance
- Provisions for pets
- Funeral or burial plans
- Succession plan, if you run or own a business
Your attorney can help ensure nothing is overlooked.
How a Nebraska estate planning lawyer can help
Estate planning can seem overwhelming. With the help of an estate planning attorney in Nebraska, you can rest assured that your will, power of attorney, advance directive and other documents are in good order and that they meet the requirements set by state and federal law.