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Wills, Estate Planning ‘Spell Out’ Wishes *

Kelli Brown believes if you have to die, do it with style.

“Dying with Style” isn’t a presentation about how to dress the deceased for their funeral. An attorney with English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, Brown helps people with and talks to various groups about wills and estate planning.

“You plan,” she said. “When you don’t, it makes it hard for the people you love.”

Brown uses an estate planning organizer so people can do that. It contains pages where clients can list general information about themselves and their families; financial information such as home or real estate ownership, checking or savings accounts, insurance or pension plans; beneficiaries; representatives, including the executor, attorney-in-fact, health care surrogate, guardian for the children and trustee; and other estate planning information. There are also sections for clients to write questions to ask their attorneys and what documents to bring to their appointments.

“Typing it up or putting it on sticky notes is not valid in Kentucky,” Brown said.

People should be careful about what she calls “fast-food estate planning,” such as going online to do a will or buying one from someone going door-to-door.

“Call 911 if someone knocks on your door trying to sell you a will,” she said. “Do your research.”

One thing people should do is a living will, which gives people the right to make decisions regarding their own medical care, including requesting or refusing life-prolonging treatment and tube feeding and expressing wishes on organ donation. Anybody 18 and older can have one, but its effectiveness is suspended during pregnancy.

“You decide who gets to make medical decisions if you can’t,” Brown said.

She even leaves a note in her children’s bags saying who can make medical decisions for them just in case she can’t be reached.

“It’s these little plans you make,” Brown said.

People should pick a power of attorney, who acts on behalf of someone in financial and legal matters.

“It can be overwhelming (for your family),” Brown said. “You want to make sure your bills are paid if you can’t.”

With a trust, people can name someone, called a trustee, who can use the money or property for the beneficiaries named in the trust.

“They can reach in for things like expenses and education,” Brown said.

In a will, the person is naming an executor and how assets are to be divided. If you don’t have a will, Kentucky will have one for you, but Brown urges people to have their own. Not having one can cost more money and involve a lot of paperwork.

“Money is not hard to divide. It’s going to be stuff,” she said. “You can also decide who’s going to be the guardian of your child. It’s best to go (three people) deep.”

Other things people should consider include the inheritance tax, where certain people have to pay a tax on items that they have inherited, and the spousal share.

“No matter how long you’ve been married, your spouse can say, ‘I’m going to take my spousal share,’ ” Brown said.

Attorney Dan Rudloff of Rudloff & Rudloff has also helped people with wills.

“If you own a house or have kids, it’s not a bad idea to think about it,” he said.

He suggests people name a first and second person to handle the estate.

“They should name two proposed distributors of the assets. If the husband dies, then it should be the wife and then the kids, or if it’s the wife, then it should be the husband and then the kids,” he said. “You always want to have a plan B.”

Some people will need a will, while others will need a trust, Rudloff said.

A lot of things can happen in a year, so he encourages people to look at their wills every year or two.

“You want to cover as many contingencies as possible,” he said.

Some issues can come up when doing wills. Parents will say they want to treat all their children fairly and make them co-executors, Rudloff said.

“That’s a big mistake,” he said. “It’s just not realistic for everyone to agree on everything. It’s not going to happen.”

People should not do what he calls “deathbed wills.”

“They may be frail or under medication and say something like, ‘I’m going to cut out my kids and give everything to my nurse,’ ” Rudloff said. “Were they in a good state of mind?”

Most people need a last will and testament instead of a trust, but trusts can sometimes help with the needs of older people, such as 24-hour care, or the extremely wealthy.

“Wills spell out how I want my assets to be done,” he said. “Trusts are putting assets in the hands of an impartial person.”

A will isn’t for the dead. It’s for the loved ones left behind.

“Some older people think when they sign a will, they’re giving up,” Rudloff said. “If you don’t, a statute in Kentucky will decide for you so you’d better decide what you want.”

Article Source: http://freelegalinformation.info

By Alyssa Harvey, The Daily News

© 2006 - 2016 Free Legal Information.info

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