The Elements of Life and Estate Planning
Estate planning is most often associated with what happens at the end of our lives. At Desert Rose Estate & Elder Law, we prefer the phrase “planning for life” because it conveys an important point: the plans you put in place to dictate what happens to your assets and property at the end of your life can—and should also serve you and your family during your lifetime.
Attorney Bernard Strass at Desert Rose Estate & Elder Law offers a suite of life and estate planning tools that protect your interests and direct the handling of your assets throughout your life as well as upon your death.
What Tools Should Be Used in Life and Estate Plans?
The structure and elements of your life and estate plan should be determined by your financial situation, the types of assets you own, the lifestyle you lead, and your personal preferences and situation. In his Arizona life and estate planning practice, attorney Bernard Strass uses these tools to craft plans that meet your needs and hold up under scrutiny in disputes:
Medical and financial powers of attorney
Revocable and irrevocable trusts
Other estate planning tools, like wills
Medical Power of Attorney
Assigning a medical power of attorney (POA) ensures that your wishes related to the medical care you receive or do not receive are upheld if you become incapacitated or unable to express your wishes. This document allows a trusted loved one to make medical decisions for you when you are unable, based on your previously expressed and documented requests.
A medical POA goes into effect when you become incapacitated and, if you recover and become able to express your wishes, the authority reverts back to you at that time. In addition to providing peace of mind from knowing you will receive care that aligns with your desires, your loved ones will have guidance from you that helps alleviate the burden of making difficult, critical decisions about your health care.
Revocable and Irrevocable Trusts
Trusts are an effective tool for managing and distributing assets while you are still living and after your death. Revocable trusts can be changed by the creator (grantor) at any point while they are still living and competent. To change an irrevocable trust, you must have the approval of all beneficiaries of the trust and you may need a court order approving the changes.
There are many types of trusts, items and assets that can be included, and different ways to structure the documentation to best meet your needs. For example, you can create a specific form of trust for firearms that are valuable and important to your family.
Trusts are a useful tool that can protect your assets during and after your life, passing your property to your desired beneficiaries without the hassle of the probate process. To achieve the maximum benefits of these life and estate planning tools, it is best to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney.
Financial Power of Attorney
Financial powers of attorney assign responsibility for the management of your assets and property in situations when you are unable to handle those matters yourself. These duties could include paying bills, filing taxes, managing income and financial accounts, and buying or selling property—and you can choose which authorities are granted.
Like medical POAs, these financial authorizations go into effect when you are unavailable or unable to manage your finances yourself, and the authority is returned to you when you are again able or available. This means that, in addition to serving you if you are incapacitated by a health condition or other matter, a financial power of attorney can also be useful in situations such as when you are traveling abroad and need someone to look after your affairs while you are away.
Arizona Estate Plans that Protect in Life and Death
Whether you need a simple will or a more complex plan to protect your estate and preserve it for the next generations, you want to work with an attorney who understands the potentially emotional nature of estate planning as well as the related laws and tools that are available. Arizona attorney Bernard Strass will meet you at your home or another location of your choice to discuss your situation and best options. Schedule a consultation by calling Desert Rose Estate & Elder Law at (602) 644-1406 or completing our online contact form.