Nick Y. Shimoda, P.C.
186 Belmont Dr
Dothan, AL 36305

ESTATE PLANNING DOCUMENTS

Q: What is estate planning?

A: Estate planning is a process that accomplishes the following objectives:

  • Controlling property while you are alive and well
  • Taking care of yourself and your loved ones in the event of a disability
  • Giving what you have to whom you want, when you want, and how you want upon your death.
Without a good estate plan, you and your family may lose control over your property, suffer through unnecessary court proceedings, and pay excessive taxes. The lack of an estate plan may also deprive your family of the opportunity to receive from you a lasting legacy designed to bring your family closer together.

Q: What happens if you do not plan your estate?

A: If you do not plan your estate correctly, your assets may pass to beneficiaries in accordance with state law, not in accordance with your wishes. The court system will be in charge of choosing your executor and the guardians for your minor children. The court will have jurisdiction over the assets inherited by minor children until they reach the age of 19, at which time each the child will receive full control over the assets, without guidance or advice from others.

Q: What are some common estate planning documents?

A: Common estate planning documents include the following:

  • Will - A will is a written document that tells the court how to divide your property at the time of death. It also tells the court who should be the guardian for your minor children and your executor.

  • Trust - A trust is a written legal document that provides instructions on how the property titled in trust's name is to be managed and distributed. Trusts have the advantages of increased privacy, increased asset protection for surviving spouses and children, planning in the event of a disability, legitimate tax avoidance and probate avoidance.

  • Durable Power of Attorney - A durable power of attorney is a written document wherein you ("principal") appoint someone else ("agent") to have the authority to act on your behalf. The agent will have the authority to act even in the event you become disabled. The authority granted to the agent can include all financial transactions, managing investments and making gifts.

  • Health Care Power of Attorney - A health care power of attorney is a written document wherein you ("principal") appoint someone else ("agent") to have the authority to make health care decisions on your behalf when the you cannot make them yourself. Your agent should have a clear understanding of your views with regard to continuing health care decisions under certain circumstances.

  • Living Will - A living will is a document that instructs your physicians regarding specific types of medical treatment that you do and do not want to receive. They are mainly used by those who desire to authorize the withdrawal of life sustaining treatment if the treatment is simply prolonging life without any hope of a meaningful recovery.

  • HIPAA Authorization - The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) ensures the privacy of your health care information. These strict privacy rules may restrict your loved ones from obtaining access to this information when necessary. A HIPAA Authorization will allow the individuals you designate to obtain this information.

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The information obtained at this site is not, nor is intended to be, legal advise. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.

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