An estate plan is a series of legal documents that you create to manage your person and your assets while you are alive and when you die. These legal documents can include: an advanced medical directive (also called a “living will”), a general durable power of attorney, a will, and a trust.
For example, you can create instructions for:
Below are simple definitions of common components of an estate plan:
Your estate is the value of your real and personal property minus any liabilities. It includes land, homes, cash, investments, insurance, and any other assets you own.
An advanced medical directive, also known as a “living will”, is a legal written document that allows you to control what actions you want taken regarding your medical treatment in the event that you are no longer able to give your informed consent. For example, an advanced medical directive could include an order to “do not resuscitate” in the event that you experience a potential life-threatening medical event, like a heart-attack.
Long-Term Care Insurance is insurance that covers your long-term health care needs that are not covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or regular health insurance. Those who obtain long-term care insurance are not necessarily sick, but may no longer be able to perform certain day-to-day tasks, such as bathing, dressing, or preparing meals. Long-Term Care Insurance would cover all or some portion of your stay in a long-term care health facility, in-home nursing assistance, and travel, for example.
A healthcare power of attorney is slightly different from an advanced medical directive in that you use this written document to appoint someone else to make healthcare decisions for you in the event that you are no longer able to make them for yourself.
A general (aka durable) power of attorney is a written legal document. With it, you give another person the authority to act on your behalf to make decisions concerning your finances, and the general administration of your day-to-day matters while you are alive, but incapacitated mentally or physically.
A will is a written legal document that you create that states how you want to dispose of your real and personal property (real estate, home, securities, insurance, cash, furniture, digital assets, etc.), and your physical remains after your death. The will becomes effective at the time of your death.
A will is revocable. You can change or revoke all or a portion of your will at any time with a few simple steps.
Anyone who is 18 years of age or older and of a sound mind should consult with an experienced attorney and create a will and an estate plan…it is not just for senior citizens!
Life Insurance is important to have. It is insurance that you purchase that pays your family (or designated beneficiary) a lump sum of money when you die. All or a portion of this amount is often times used to cover your final expenses. However, you should still create a will to ensure that your last wishes are honored concerning the disposal of your remains and the gifting of any real or personal property you own.
A trust is a legal entity you create for the benefit of people or entities you designate as beneficiaries. You are called “the grantor”. As grantor, you transfer assets into the trust. You then appoint a trustee to manage the assets that are placed in the trust for the beneficiary(ies) until an appointed time or certain conditions have been met.
There are also several types of charitable trusts that you can establish that can provide gifts to you, your family, and a charity of your choice. As stated in the name, the charitable trust must have a charitable component (to benefit a charity), and often involves trust assets like real estate or stocks. In most cases, charitable trusts trigger tax deductions, which benefit your estate by reducing its total value for tax purposes. To learn more about these types of trusts, please consult with an experience estate planning attorney or your tax advisor.
To help you get started, you can choose to download, print, and complete the free Estate Planning Record Book.
Use it to gather and itemize your real and personal property, financial accounts, insurance, and other confidential information in one place. Keep it in a secure location. This will make the process more manageable, easier to understand, and efficient when you meet with your attorney or tax advisor.
*Please consult with an experienced estate planning attorney or tax advisor for assistance with creating your will, trust or estate plan in accordance with your state’s laws.
1. How many years of experience does the attorney/tax advisor have in estate planning?
2. Are services billed at a fixed rate or by the hour? If hourly, approximately how many hours are needed to complete the estate plan?
3. What estate plan documents are included in the price estimate?
4. Are asset transfers included in the document preparation?
5. Does the cost include revisions or additions to the estate plan in the future?
6. What tax benefits will I receive if I make a charitable gift?
7. How can I maximize my charitable giving and still benefit my family?
Lastly, as a part of your planning, we hope that you will prayerfully consider making a gift to your church. If you choose to include us in your planned giving, please contact us to obtain our federal tax identification number.
From the Heart Church Ministries®
Attn: Legal Department
4949 Allentown Road Suitland, MD 20746
Tel: (301) 899-9411
Praise the Lord!