Estate planning is not just about deciding who gets what after you die. It is also about protecting the value of your assets, ensuring your family’s future, and preparing for the unexpected. With so much at stake, it is no wonder that estate planning is subject to complex state and federal laws. With some basic guidelines in mind, you can take on the task of estate planning in Utah with confidence.
Creating a Will
A will is a legally binding document that outlines the basic details of what you would like to happen with your property and your responsibilities after your death. It may include several details:
- Who you choose as executor of your estate
- How you would like money, real estate, and other assets distributed
- Provisions for your children and other dependents
- Charitable donations you may wish to make from your estate
After you have made a will, it is important to review and update it on a regular basis, especially as you acquire new assets or experience changes such as marriage, divorce, or the birth or adoption of a child. If you die without a will in Utah, the state decides what becomes of your property.
Even with a will, your property may be subject to a lengthy, costly, and confusing legal process called probate before it can transfer to your heirs. Fortunately, there are ways to get around the probate process in Utah. Property does not have to go through probate if it:
- Is secured in a trust
- Is owned jointly, with survivorship rights in place
- Includes a transfer-on-death or payable-on-death designation, such as a bank account, vehicle registration, or real estate deed
Smaller estates in Utah may qualify for a simplified probate process.
Financial Power of Attorney
Although you may prefer to handle your personal financial matters yourself, there may come a time when you are unable to do so. It is a good idea to name an agent who can make financial decisions and transactions on your behalf under such circumstances. A financial power of attorney allows you to appoint such a person. You can limit the scope of what your agent is able to do and define under what circumstances they have the power to make financial moves on your behalf.
Health Care and End-of-Life Decisions
Having a plan in place for deciding crucial health matters in the event that you are unable to can ease the burden on loved ones during a difficult time. If you have strong feelings about life support, for example, it is a good idea to outline them in a living will or health care advance directive. You can also grant medical power of attorney to a trusted friend or family member, granting them the right to make certain care decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated.
Estate plans cover a wide range of eventualities. Yours may also include:
- Plans and preferences for your funeral arrangements
- Provisions for pets you may leave behind
- A secession plan for your business
- Comprehensive life insurance
Estate planning professionals may even be able to help you develop a strategy to minimize estate taxes.
Why Work With a Utah Estate Planning Lawyer
Estate planning is complex and subject to both state and federal laws. Even small oversights can cause big problems when your estate is settled. Make sure your plan is thorough and meets all legal requirements by working with a Utah estate planning lawyer.