Many people who consider themselves adequately protected are frustrated to find themselves unprepared when the unexpected happens. Whether a natural disaster, health issue, crime, or serious accident bombards your life, you will be better equipped to deal with life’s challenges when you have thoroughly planned ahead. At Carr Law, we make planning for your future as easy and accurate as possible. We adapt to the needs of the individuals we serve. For some a simple Will suffices, while others may need a more comprehensive set of documents. Below we have laid out a few documents everyone should consider having. If you already have these important documents, then do what you can to keep important documents safe. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us by calling Carr Law at (801) 810-7002 (SLC) or (435) 243-7002 (Tooele).
A last will is a legal document specifying final wishes following your death. Generally, a major component of a will is your preference regarding the distribution of the assets of your estate. Regardless of the size or value of your estate, having a will is sound practice because it allows for planning ahead. You can make sure that your assets are protected and that specific allocations to family, friends and organizations are honored. Additionally, a will creates a more efficient and less costly distribution of your property. The the best way to ensure that your assets are distributed properly is to have your will drawn up by an attorney licensed in your state who specializes in estate planning and probate. One misplaced word in a will can lead to an improper distribution of your assets. At Carr Law, we pride ourselves on drafting error-free wills that lead to precisely the results you want. Additionally, we recommend our clients regularly review and update their wills as needed over time.
Basically, a trust splits the equitable title in property from its legal title, which means one person or organization is charged with managing the property while another is given the benefit. There are dozens of different types of trusts. For example, a revocable living trust allows you to continue to manage your trust assets during your lifetime. Upon your death the trust assets are automatically passed along to your beneficiaries rather than requiring a will to devise the property. This reduces the chance that some of your personal information will become public information. Another type of trust is a spendthrift trust, which allows you to protect the property in the trust from any creditors that a beneficiary may have breathing down his or her neck.
At Carr Law we fancy ourselves in finding creative ways to use trusts for the benefits of our clients. Here are just a few types of trusts: A/B Trusts, Asset Protection Trusts, By-Pass Trusts, Credit Shelter Trusts, Charitable Trusts, Charitable Remainder Trusts, Charitable Remainder Annuity Trust (“CRAT”), Charitable Remainder Unitrusts (“CRUT”), Charitable Remainder Unitrusts with Net Income Make-up Provisions (“NIMCRUT”), Complex Trusts, Constructive Trusts, Crummey Trusts, Dynasty Trusts, Generation Skipping Trusts, Grantor Trusts, Grantor Retained Income Trusts (“GRIT”), Life Insurance Trusts, Qualified Personal Residence Trusts (“QPRT”), Qualified Terminable Interest Property Trusts (“QTIP Trust”), Revocable Trusts, Simple Trusts, Special Needs Trusts, Spendthrift Trusts, Testamentary Trusts.
POWER OF ATTORNEY:
A Power of Attorney (sometimes referred to as a Financial Power of Attorney) is a written document in which you (“the Principal”) designate another person (“the Agent or Attorney-in-Fact”) to act on your behalf in making property, financial and other legal decisions. These are powerful documents. You are essentially giving someone authority to take action on your behalf. At Carr Law we can draft a unique POA for you and provide counsel as to who would be a good candidate to act as your agent. We will ensure that your POA is properly drafted and executed so that it meets your precise legal needs.
ADVANCED HEALTHCARE DIRECTIVE:
An Advanced Health Care Directive or Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, is a written document in which you (the Principal) designate another person (the Agent) to make health care decisions for you in the event that you become unable to make those decisions yourself. By naming someone you trust in this capacity, you will have a person to actively participate in the decisions surrounding your health care. This document also directs under what conditions life-sustaining procedures should be withdrawn. This document is sometimes referred to as a Medical Power of Attorney. Copies of this document should be given to your attorney, your physician, and your appointed Agent.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, protects your medical privacy. Some hospitals prohibit medical professionals from disclosing any information about you, even to your health care proxy, unless you have signed a HIPAA release. Your family may need to speak with your doctor about your medical situation and a HIPAA release will mitigate any legal issues that might prevent a needed consultation. Most hospitals and treating physicians already have in place the proper documentation. However, if you find yourself worried about protecting your medical privacy while still allowing access to people who may need to make decisions that affect you, we can help.
GUARDIANSHIP AND CONSERVATORSHIP:
Like a Power of Attorney, a guardianship allows someone else to act as if he or she were you. Unlike a power of attorney, a guardianship must be granted by a judge. A guardianship is similar to a parent/child relationship, except that a guardian is not held legally responsible for the acts of the other person and guardians do not have to use their own money to provide for the other. They are generally granted when people can no longer take care of themselves or a minor under their control. Guardianships may be granted to take care of adults and/or children. We can help you navigate the legal system if you need to establish a guardianship. Conservatorships are similar to guardianships but they limit the power to managing property and finances. A conservator may not make personal decisions for someone such as where he or she will live. However, in many cases the same person will be both the guardian and the conservator.
CHILDREN PROTECTION PLAN:
For parents (and grandparents) of minor children, smart estate planning reaches beyond simply minimizing estate taxes and ensuring that your property ends up in the right hands. You also want to know that, if illness, injury or death leaves you unable to care for minor or special needs children, they will be raised by the people of your choosing and that your children’s financial, emotional and spiritual needs will be met.
Sometimes having a will is not enough. To enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing you have made excellent planning decisions for the benefit of your children, consider a “Kids Safety Net Plan”. It might include a combination of the following planning tools:
- 1. Short-term and long-term guardianship to care for your children in the event of your death or incapacity
- 2. Simple will
- 3. Revocable living trust
- 4. Individual and institutional trustees
- 5. Special needs trust
- 6. Life insurance trust
- 7. Education trust
Hiring an attorney is a very important step in preventing important oversights such as:
- 1. You may have named a couple to act as guardians, but you have not indicated what should happen if the couple breaks up or one of the spouses dies.
- 2. You may not have named enough alternate guardians to serve if your first choice cannot.
- 3. You may not have considered financial resources of potential guardians when deciding who should raise your children. Your guardians do not have to also be financial decision-makers for your children; your guardians are the people who will be in charge of emotional, spiritual and physical well-being – not necessarily finances.
- 4. You may not have provided for someone to take care of the money and any other assets you are leaving behind. That means your money could go directly to your kids at age 18 – unprotected.
- 5. You may not have considered the obstacles by people who might challenge your wishes or whom you would never want raising your children.
ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED DOCUMENTS:
- 1. Legal documents to name short-term guardians who can be there immediately for your children so they will never be taken into the arms of strangers.
- 2. Letters to your short-term guardians so the people you’ve named will know just what to do if called upon.
- 3. Instructions to everyone who takes care of your kids as to exactly what to do if you are in an accident … so there’s never any question about who to call.
- 4. Legal documents to name long-term guardians who will raise your children just as you would so there is no family feuding over your children.
- 5. Letters to your long-term guardians letting them know what to do if called upon.
- 6. Instructions and guidelines for your long-term guardians on how you want your kids to be raised…make sure your kids are raised with your values, insights, stories and experiences.
- 7. Medical Powers of Attorney for your minor children so the next time they travel you know they’ll receive the medical care they need.
- 8. A custom, personalized I.D. card for your wallet stating that you have minor children who should be contacted if you are in an accident.
ASSET SUMMARY DOCUMENT:
At Carr Law, we encourage our clients to create a checklist and summary of certain information in the event of an emergency. This makes it easy for a loved one to find your important medical, financial, legal, and personal documents. Make a record of names, addresses, and phone numbers of your accountant, attorney, financial advisor, tax preparer, primary physician, insurance agent and others who may have important documents or information about you. Make a list and location of banks, mutual funds, real estate, life insurance policies, personal property, safe deposit box locations, loans, automobiles, titles, birth certificate, passport, marriage certificate, divorce documents, child custody documents, all court documents, partnership agreements, corporation documents, etc. Ensure your attorney has a copy of this information as well.
Call Carr Law at (801) 810-7002 in Salt Lake City or (435) 243-7002 in Tooele for a free initial conference with Mr. Carr.