Opelika Estate Planning Law Firm
You’ve worked hard to build your estate and create the life of your dreams. Don’t let the work stop there, or else you risk losing your estate to pointless fees, family disputes, and taxes. With a comprehensive estate plan, you can rest easy knowing that your assets will continue your legacy long after you’re gone. However, estate planning doesn’t just deal with your assets after you pass. A thorough estate plan can also protect you should you become incapacitated or otherwise unable to advocate for yourself.
When you’re ready to start estate planning in Opelika, AL and the surrounding areas, it’s important to work with an attorney you can really trust and rely on throughout the entire process. We’re here to help you understand your options and create an estate plan that fits your unique needs. Call Haygood, Cleveland, Pierce, Thompson & Short at 334-560-1936 to set up a consultation now.
Exploring Your Estate Planning Options
Although most people think that a will is the primary tool used in estate planning, the world of estate planning is actually much bigger than that. A will is an important part of an estate plan, as it outlines how assets should be distributed, your burial wishes, your preference for a guardian for your minor children, and other important information. A thorough estate plan will likely have many other components.
As we learn more about your goals and your dreams for your legacy, we may recommend options like:
Trusts are a versatile type of estate planning tool since there are many types of trusts available to consumers. The benefits of trusts are widespread, often helping families save money on taxes, avoid the stress of probate, and streamline the process of asset dispersal. In some cases, trusts meet very specific planning needs.
For example, a special needs trust allows someone to provide for a loved one with disabilities without putting their benefits at risk. When we meet to talk about your estate plan, we can recommend which types of trusts are best aligned with your goals.
If you’re ready to get started on estate planning, you’ve likely also thought about what type of end-of-life care you want. While this is a difficult topic to consider, it’s important. Whether you want every lifesaving measure available, no lifesaving measures at all, or something in the middle, an advance directive is key if you want to have your wishes respected.
Your advance directive can also outline family members to whom you want to have access to your medical records and updates if you become incapacitated. This empowers your chosen loved one to advocate for you, rather than setting the family up for infighting as they try to figure out who knows your final wishes best.
Power of Attorney
You never know what life will send your way. Should you become incapacitated, you’ll want to know that your medical needs and financial needs are still taken care of. A medical power of attorney allows you to name a loved one who is legally permitted to make healthcare decisions on your behalf, and a financial power of attorney gives a chosen individual the power to take care of your financial affairs.
You can choose to appoint the same person to both spots, or you can use two different people. There is quite a bit of flexibility in these documents, so you can decide when you want the named individual to take over decision-making responsibilities when those responsibilities pass back to you, and to what extent they are allowed to make decisions on your behalf.
Estate Planning Laws in Alabama
Each state has its own laws regarding estate planning, which is why it’s important to review your plan whenever you move to a new state. If you write a will in Alabama, it must be signed in the presence of two witnesses. Those witnesses must also sign the will.
If you pass away and your assets are not held in trust, your estate may have to go through probate. This involves verifying the validity of your will, looking for creditors to whom you owe money, assessing and cataloging assets, and giving people the chance to make a claim against the estate.
As you may imagine, this is both expensive and stressful for family members who are grieving the loss of a loved one. However, Alabama law does allow some estates to bypass the standard probate process. If the estate is worth $34,611 or less, family members may opt for summary distribution.
Please note that this amount changes each year to account for changes in the Consumer Price Index. A close family member must file for probate for the estate, and there is a 30-day waiting period before you can ask the court to close the estate.
How Haygood, Cleveland, Pierce, Thompson & Short Can Help You
The team at Haygood, Cleveland, Pierce, Thompson & Short realizes how important a useful and enforceable estate plan is for our clients. When you think about the thousands of hours you’ve put into your career, the time you’ve spent building a strong foundation for your family, and the dreams you’ve created during this time, it’s obvious why an estate plan is important.
Our team has handled all types of estates over the years, from small estates with minimal assets to massive estates that require an in-depth valuation of assets, management of complex family relationships, and complicated legal solutions. Regardless of where your estate fits in along this scale, you can feel confident knowing that we’ll treat your estate with the care and attention it deserves.
Your goals and dreams are your own—we are just here to make them come true. Our work doesn’t stop after your estate plan is created. By checking in with you over time, we ensure that your estate plan is up-to-date and still in line with your goals and plans. We’re not just here to work with you once; we are here to build a long-term relationship.
Contact Our Team to Set Up a Consultation
If you’re ready to talk to our Opelika estate planning lawyers, let’s schedule a consultation right away. Reach out online or call us at 334-560-1936 to get started.