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Estate planning provides benefits in a variety of circumstances

Estate planning is a common-sense process that all people in West Virginia and elsewhere should undertake to protect themselves and their families. Those who may be starting out in life and those who may have few assets can nonetheless benefit from having an estate plan. The purposes of estate planning include an effort to maximize financial stability for oneself and one's family.

Another purpose is to provide for the distribution of assets upon death, which can include provisions for one's minor children. The plan will organize the process of distributing the estate, knowing the location and nature of one's assets, and providing for the beneficiaries in a way that follows the testator's stated wishes. The estate plan can even name the person who is chosen to take care of the testator's minor children after death.

Having a plan avoids chaos, guesswork and substantial time trying to figure out the nature and extent of the decedent's estate and what to do with it. In some cases, without a will there will no way to determine which family member the decedent would have wanted to handle his or her post-death financial affairs. Further, funds may be lost to excess taxes if obvious tax-saving provisions are not provided in trust and will instruments. Many of the issues mentioned will not be clearly defined nor will the individual know what options are available in the process.

That is why one of the first important steps to solidifying an effective plan is to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney. Questions about wills and trusts will be explored, explained and answered. The naming of representatives to handle the trust and will provisions will be discussed and decisions made based on sound reasoning. Similarly, in the conference with the attorney, a trusted person may be identified to be the one who will be responsible for one's power of attorney. The latter document is a powerful one that provides substantial protection to West Virginia residents during their lifetime should they be unable to handle their own financial and other daily activities.

Source: trib.com, "Brezik: Estate planning is for everyone", July 1, 2017

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