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Consider Your Estate Plan Before Your Summer Vacation

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By Heather Coleman, Attorney
English, Lucas, Priest & Owsley, LLP

Sweet summertime.  The sun shines bright, schools are out, and with no better time for a vacation, the roads and airports are jam-packed with travelers.  Whether scheduling a beach trip, a lake outing, or a mountain getaway, careful planning is necessary to nab the best spot to unwind from the stresses of everyday life.

While you are busy making your summer plans, will you consider updating your estate plan?  So often clients call in a panic when they realize they are about to embark on trip and they failed to get their estate plan in place first.

If you have a trip planned this summer, add updating your estate plan to your summer to-do list.  Here’s what you need to consider:

1.    Complete your will:  If you do not have a will in place, you may not realize its importance. In Kentucky, if you die without a will, your assets will pass according to the laws of intestacy and unintended consequences may result.  Consider the following examples of what could occur:

If you are married with children, your assets will be divided among your spouse and children– regardless of your children’s ages. If your children are under the age of 18, the court will require the assets be held in trust with court oversight until your children reach 18 years old. At 18, your children will receive all assets held in trust in a lump sum.

Is this how you would choose for your assets to pass?  If the answer is no, you need a will. 

If you are married without children, the assets will be divided among your spouse and your heirs-at-law. Often this means your spouse receives half of your assets after all debts are paid, and the remaining assets are distributed to your parents, siblings, aunts/uncles, etc.

Is this how you would choose for your assets to pass?  If the answer is no, you need a will.

2.    Establish guardianship:  The most important plan you can make for your children is to designate a guardian to care for them if you are unable to do so.  If you have no guardianship designation in place, take time to consider the consequences.

If you die without a guardianship designation, the court will appoint a guardian for your minor children based on the court’s determination of what is in the best interest of your child. Do you want the court to determine who will care for your children without having your preferences known?

If the answer is no, you need a guardianship designation.

3.    Review or update your incapacity documents: Two important parts of every estate plan are documents related to who can make medical decisions for you and who can handle your affairs in case of incapacity.  If you do not have a living will directive and a power of attorney in place, you need both.  Be sure you have these documents before you travel and that the people named are still valid.

ELPO can help you

Let us help you find peace of mind while traveling.  ELPO is committed to developing a plan that works for you and your family, and we offer clients complete estate planning services for a flat fee, starting at $600 per family. This includes a last will and testament, power of attorney, and living will directive: three essential tools you need in your estate plan. If your estate is more complicated, we will quote you a fee to prepare all the documents you need, and will thoroughly review all aspects of your estate plan with you.

Our hope is that by offering these services, more people will give careful consideration to estate planning. Contact me, attorney Heather Coleman Brooks, to get started with the process. You can reach me at hbrooks@elpolaw.com, or at (270) 781-6500.