Estate Planning Tools and the Ones You Must Have

Like DMX and Prince, many Black Americans have failed to participate in the estate planning process.

When hip-hop star DMX died in 2021, he had no will and only a few liquid assets. His estimated 15 children are expecting a share of his estate, but the estate has been in the probate court for months. An estate also has to be established to manage any expected future earnings from his music. However, with no appointed administrators and legal costs, DMX’s estate will be dwindling until the proceedings are finalized.  The failure to have a comprehensive estate plan including a health care directive is a major problem and can cost the estate a lot of money.

In fact, some reports estimate that DMX’s net worth was estimated to be $10 million. However, it fell to a perhaps even negative $1 million at the time of his death.

Finurah’s recent article entitled “Not Just for the Rich: Five Estate Planning Tools Everyone Needs” reports that the number of Black Americans who have completed a will has increased by 6.2% (from 25.9% to 27.5%).

Estate planning lets you stay in control of your assets, while contributing to your family’s generational wealth. Let’s look at five tools necessary to create a comprehensive estate plan.

  1. Will. A will establishes the distribution of your individual assets. A will is also important if you have minor children because it is the only way you can nominate a guardian of your choosing for them.
  2. Trust. A trust is a fiduciary arrangement that lets a third party (the trustee) hold assets on behalf of a beneficiary or beneficiaries. Trusts can be arranged in many ways and can specify exactly how and when the assets pass to the beneficiaries.
  3. Power of Attorney. This lets you appoint a trusted person to act on your behalf as your agent or attorney-in-fact. He or she will handle financial decisions on your behalf, such as real estate transactions, banking transactions, insurance and Medicare.
  4. Health Care Directive. This document allows someone you have appointed to make medical decisions in the event that you cannot.
  5. Living Will. If you have a terminal illness or death is imminent, this document identifies the treatments or medications you would want administered, withheld, or withdrawn, allowing you to remain in control of your end of life. In short, this lets people know what you want and do not want.

Talk to an experienced Thousand Oaks estate planning attorney about a comprehensive estate plan including a health care directive that includes these five documents.

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Reference: Finurah (Feb. 5, 2022) “Not Just for the Rich: Five Estate Planning Tools Everyone Needs”

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