Client Focused. Results Driven.
Law Offices of Shannon C. Smith

Estate Planning Lawyers in Northern Kentucky

Providing Legal Counsel and Assistance for Clients Making Estate Plans

Estate planning allows you to ensure that your wishes are known when it comes to your assets and how you want your estate distributed after your death. It involves using multiple legal documents, such as wills, trusts, and powers of attorney, to manage your estate and provide clear instructions for your loved ones left behind. Whether you have a few main assets or a complex, high-value estate, estate planning provides peace of mind and ensures your affairs are in order.

Many people put off estate planning until it’s too late, leaving their loved ones with the burden of sorting out the assets, settling the estate, and trying to figure out what the person would have wanted. Give yourself and your loved ones the gift of peace of mind by working with the Law Offices of Shannon C. Smith, PLLC, to create an estate plan specifically tailored to your needs and situation.

What Should Be Included in a Typical Estate Plan?

Every individual’s situation is unique, and their estate plan should reflect that. The right strategy for your brother, friend, or neighbor may not be the best option for you. Estate planning should be done with the guidance and counsel of an experienced attorney who can walk you through your options and explain the purpose of each document. However, there are some common estate planning tools that are beneficial for most cases, as outlined below.

Last Will and Testament

The last will and testament is one of the most important parts of your estate plan. It provides your loved ones with instructions for your estate, including naming an executor, naming a legal guardian for any minor children, and outlining who should inherit your assets after your death. To be valid in Kentucky, a will must be created by someone (called the testator) over the age of 18. If the will is completely handwritten by the testator, it does not need to be witnessed. However, if it is typed or otherwise not completely handwritten, it is required that the testator signs the will in the presence of at least two witnesses.

Living Will

A living will is a type of advance directive. It provides instructions for how you would like your medical care to be handled if you are still living but incapacitated. For example, if you are the victim of a car accident and are in a coma, a living will provides instructions such as whether you wish to have life support measures taken or whether you want to donate your body after death.

Living wills can also be helpful for those who experience certain mental health or cognitive conditions, such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or dementia. Someone with bipolar disorder may have a living will that outlines where they should be taken for medical treatment and what medications they prefer in case of an episode. This increases the likelihood of getting the treatments and care they prefer and allows them to retain as much control over their care as possible in these situations.

Powers of Attorney

A power of attorney is a document that gives another person legal permission to make decisions for you. There are several types of powers of attorney, but two of the most common are financial power of attorney and health care power of attorney. A financial power of attorney allows a designated person to handle your finances, including paying your bills, writing and signing checks, and handling investment accounts. Financial powers of attorney may be used in situations where someone is no longer of mental capacity to make their own decisions, but they are also sometimes used on a temporary basis if someone is going to be overseas or is deployed and is otherwise unable to handle their affairs.

Can I Modify an Estate Plan?

As we move through life, what assets we have change, as do our financial goals and objectives. This means that it’s likely that your estate plan will need to be modified at some point. Most people have more assets and greater wealth after they are retired than when they are in their 20s, so you may need to adjust an estate plan to account for this by creating trusts. You will also need to change your will after any minor children reach adulthood to cancel any named guardian and ensure that they are listed as beneficiaries in their own right.

Most parts of an estate plan can be modified at any point and for any reason. The exception to this is an irrevocable trust. Changing your will is as simple as creating a new one and destroying the old one, and revocable trusts can be changed through amendments and restatements.

What Happens to My Assets If I Die Without an Estate Plan?

Many people think that they don’t need an estate plan because they are young and in good health or don’t have many assets. However, if you die without an estate plan, all of your assets are subject to the Kentucky intestate succession laws. This means that you won’t have any control over or say in what happens to your estate, and those you intended to inherit may be left with nothing.

If you don’t already have an estate plan in place or you’re not sure if what you have covers all of your needs, call the Law Offices of Shannon C. Smith, PLLC, at 859-667-1204. Our team includes experienced estate planning attorneys who are here to help. Schedule a meeting today to talk with an estate planning lawyer about your goals for your legacy and how an estate plan can make them happen.