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The benefits of timely estate planning

It isn't uncommon for Louisiana residents to procrastinate when it comes to estate planning. However, being proactive can give individuals a sense of control over what will happen to them and their assets if they get sick, become incapacitated or pass on. Common estate plan tools include a will, a trust, and powers of attorney. Living trusts may be preferable to wills as they don't need to go through the probate process.

This means that the terms of a trust won't become public knowledge after a person passes away. Avoiding probate may also make the process of settling an estate faster and less expensive. It is important to note that wills only deal with assets that are titled in a deceased person's name only. Therefore, not all assets may need to go through probate even if a person doesn't have a trust.

A power of attorney allows an individual to name an agent to make financial decisions on his or her behalf. This power often takes effect when the principal becomes incapacitated. Agents generally have the right to gift assets to other people or entities, and this may help a person avoid nursing home costs. The use of a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust may also help a person preserve assets while living in a nursing home.

Ideally, an individual will create an estate plan as soon as he or she becomes a legal adult. This may make it easier for a person to protect assets, name a guardian for a minor child or decline medical treatment after becoming incapacitated. If a person already has an estate plan, it may be a good idea to review it on a regular basis with the help of an attorney and other trusted advisers.

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