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Estate planning is an important and everlasting gift you can give your family. And setting up a smooth inheritance isn’t as hard as you might think.  - Suze Orman

Estate planning is an important part of ensuring that your final wishes are known, that you have designated persons to handle your financial and health decisions when you are not able to and to assist in preserving assets if you or your spouse were to need long term care.  We would like to give you a brief overview of a few estate planning documents that Severns & Howard can prepare for you to assist you in meeting your estate plan goals.  We recommend reviewing your estate plan every 3 years or when you experience major financial or health changes to ensure that these documents reflect your most current wishes and designated persons.    

  Documents that are used during your lifetime are your powers of attorney.  The General Durable Power of Attorney and Durable Health Care Power of Attorney and Health Care Declaration (living will), allow for you to designate an attorney-in-fact or agent to assist you with your financial business and to make medical decisions on your behalf if you become seriously ill or injured and cannot speak for yourself.   

             A Revocable Living Trust provides for lifetime management of your estate even if you became incapacitated, but it also allows for you to express your wishes of how you would like your assets distributed upon your death, whether it is a simple or a complicated distribution plan.  You may designate charities, specific bequests, and other special persons to receive asses.  This document can also allow for the avoidance of probate.

  The document used upon your passing is your Last Will and Testament.  A Last Will and Testament expresses your final wishes with regard to your assets that you hold in your sole name and do not have beneficiary or transfer on death designations listed.  In a Last Will and Testament, just like in a trust, you are able to designate charities, specific bequests, and other special persons to receive assets.  However, unlike a trust, these assets are held in your sole name upon your passing and depending on the value of such assets may require your Will to be probated with the Court.  In this document you will also designate who you wish to appoint as your personal representative.  This person will ensure that your wishes as stated in your Last Will and Testament are fulfilled.