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Estate Planning Attorneys in Ridgeland, MS
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Estate planning is for everyone. You are never too young or too old for an estate plan. Whether you are young or in the prime of life, starting a business or preparing to retire, expecting your first child or first grandchild, having an estate plan is crucial to protecting your assets, providing for your own healthcare and financial well-being, and leaving a legacy for future generations. Ultimately, estate planning is about finding true peace and security for yourself and your family.
At the Hancock Law Firm, our Ridgeland, MS estate planning attorneys take all of these factors into consideration and help you create a comprehensive estate plan tailored to your own unique needs. We address all aspects of estate planning through a combination of wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and legacy estate planning to create an estate plan that is right for you. For a fully confidential initial consultation with a Mississippi estate planning attorney, please call our Ridgeland law office today.
We Provide Comprehensive Estate Planning Services in Mississippi
Drafting a Will
The will is one of the key building blocks of any estate plan. Every adult should have a well-drafted will in place. Alarmingly, more than half of American adults currently lack a valid will. Even if you are creating one or more trusts to dispose of your property, it is still essential to include a will to make sure every asset in your estate is covered and disposed of according to your wishes. The will is also the proper place to name an executor for your estate, make any special bequests, and appoint a guardian for your minor children if one might be necessary. If you have any questions or concerns about writing a will in Mississippi, our Ridgeland estate planning lawyers are here to help.
Trusts offer certain advantages over wills. For instance, a trust is confidential, whereas a will becomes a matter of public record. Also, property transferred through a trust does not have to go through probate. A revocable living trust is an excellent tool for transferring property. In addition to revocable living trusts, we can establish a variety of other trusts specially formulated for advanced tax planning or other special needs. Although not everyone needs a trust, when it may be beneficial, we will advise you accordingly and create the trust to suit your needs.
We can help with any of the following types of trusts, among others:
- Bypass trusts or credit shelters;
- Charitable remainder trusts
- Irrevocable trusts;
- Special needs trusts; and
- Irrevocable life insurance trusts (ILIT) or insurance-funded trusts.
Powers of Attorney
While most people think of estate planning as dealing with matters after your death, it is just as important to think about what may happen in the event you become physically or mentally incapacitated, even for just a short while, and unable to make or communicate decisions about your healthcare and your own legal and financial affairs. With a properly executed power of attorney, advance health care directive or living will, you can instruct others about your wishes regarding your healthcare, or designate someone you trust to make medical, legal, and financial decisions on your behalf. Without the proper documents in place, it may be necessary for a court to impose guardianship on you or your estate, or for family members to go to court fighting over your best interests as they see them. Making these important decisions in advance saves time, expense, and needless worry for your loved ones while helping to ensure that decisions are made as you would have them made.
Living Will/Advance Medical Directives
Do you have specific wishes regarding your end-of-life care? If so, it is highly recommended that you draft a living will or create advance medical directives. These legal documents will help to ensure that doctors follow your wishes for treatment even if you are not in a position to communicate with them. Our Mississippi estate planning lawyers can help you craft a living will and/or medical directives.
Legacy Estate Planning
You may have more to leave than just your property and tangible assets. Many people choose to leave a personal message to loved ones in their will, or through a legacy video or intangible gifts. We can discuss with you what you would like to do in regards to your legacy and advise you on the proper ways to carry out these intentions. If you want more information about legacy planning, our Ridgeland, MS estate planning attorneys are more than happy to help.
How Often Should an Estate Plan Be Updated?
As a general rule, it is a best practice to review your estate plan on a regular basis. You should look over your estate plan every few years to confirm that it still meets your needs. Additionally, you should be ready to revise your estate plan after major life events. Broadly defined, a major life event is anything that fundamentally changes the structure of your family, your finances, your health needs, or your estate planning goals. Some notable examples of major life changes include:
- A marriage or divorce;
- The birth or adoption of a child;
- The birth of a grandchild;
- Significant health/medical issues; and
- Significant financial changes, such as retiring or coming into a large inheritance.
You Can Rely On Our Mississippi Estate Planning Attorneys
Estate planning is complicated. At Hancock Law Firm, PLLC, we help people and families navigate the process—with a focus on working with clients to create a plan that effectively provides protection and achieves their goals. Among other things, our Ridgeland, MS estate planning lawyers are prepared to:
- Answer questions and explain the estate planning process during an initial consultation;
- Take care of all of the estate planning paperwork; and
- Help you create a fully personalized plan that provides true peace and security.
Every person’s estate planning needs are unique to their situation. We do not provide cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all, estate planning advice to our clients. Our Mississippi estate planning lawyers will put in the time and resources to help you and your family craft a plan that works.
Estate Planning in Mississippi: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why is Estate Planning Important?
Every adult in Madison County, Mississippi should have a comprehensive estate plan in place. Estate planning is important for a wide range of different reasons. It is about ensuring that you and your loved ones are properly protected—no matter what might happen in the future. Here are three specific reasons why estate planning is so essential:
- Protect Yourself in Case of Incapacity: There may come a day when you are no longer in a physical or mental position to manage your own financial and legal affairs. A well-structured estate plan will ensure that trusted family and loved ones have the tools and authority to protect your best interests.
- Ensure Your Heirs are Able to Inherit Assets: A key part of estate planning is ensuring that your heirs are able to inherit without running into problems—either from creditors, the government (taxes), or other parties. Through a will—and potentially other estate planning tools such as a trust—you can do what is best for your beneficiaries.
- Provide Clarity and Reduce the Risk of Conflict: Finally, estate planning can help provide clarity to your family. The last thing you want is for your loved ones to end up in a dispute after you pass away. A well-tailored estate plan can dramatically reduce the risk of confusion and/or conflict.
How Much Does Estate Planning Cost?
The cost of estate planning varies based on the complexity of your estate and the scope of your estate planning goals. That being said, a professionally-crafted estate plan can be affordable for families in Mississippi. If you have any specific questions or concerns about the cost of estate planning, we encourage you to reach out to our law office for a confidential consultation. Our Ridgeland, MS estate planning can review your needs and help you get a better understanding.
What is Probate in Mississippi?
Overseen by a local court, probate is the process through which a person’s estate is settled and their assets are distributed to the appropriate beneficiaries. Probate is generally required under Mississippi state law. However, there are some exceptions for small estates. If the total value of your loved one’s estate is less than $50,000, you may be able to settle it through a small estate affidavit. To get more information about probate in Mississippi, please contact our Ridgeland, MS probate & estate administration attorneys for help.
What is the Role of an Executor in Estate Planning?
Sometimes referred to simply as a “personal representative”, an executor in estate planning is the person responsible for ensuring that the estate gets through the probate process. Among other things, the duties of the executor include:
- Gathering estate planning documents;
- Submitting the will to the probate courts;
- Notifying beneficiaries, creditors, and other interested parties;
- Identifying all assets included within the estate;
- Paying (settling) outstanding claims; and
- Distribution of assets to the proper heirs.
An executor can be a professional (a lawyer) or it can be a trusted family member or friend (spouse, sibling, etc). In Mississippi (Miss. Code. Ann. § 91-7-35), any person can serve as an executor if they are at least 18 years old and are of sound mind.
What Documents are Needed for Estate Planning?
The specific documents that you will need in your estate plan depend entirely on your specific circumstances and your goals. That being said, there are some core documents that should be included as part of most estate plans in Mississippi. Some key estate planning documents include:
- A Will: All adults can benefit from a professionally-drafted will. It is the central estate planning document in Mississippi. A will can be used to clarify your last wishes, name a guardian for your minor children, and distribute assets to your heirs. If you have questions about writing a will, our Ridgeland, MS estate planning lawyers can help.
- Trust: While not a part of every estate plan, a trust may be a better option for passing down assets in certain circumstances. Depending on your case, a trust can be an effective, efficient estate planning vehicle. Our Ridgeland, MS estate planning lawyers help people set up trusts that work for their goals.
- Powers of Attorney: Every estate plan should have a power of attorney (POA) document in place. You need to make sure that a trusted family member or friend has the tools that they need to manage your affairs in the event of temporary or permanent incapacity. A durable power of attorney is an essential estate planning document.
- Health Directives: Do you have specific wishes regarding your medical treatment, especially related to end-of-life care? If so, it is generally a best practice to put advance medical directives in place. In effect, medical directives (health directives) are enforceable estate planning documents that detail your wishes regarding health care.
Is it Hard to Change an Estate Plan?
No. Life brings changes. While every adult should have an estate plan in place regardless of their current age, the plan that you set up as a 30-year-old is probably not going to work well if you leave it unchanged for the next 40 years. An estate plan should be updated after major life events—such as marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, the birth of a grandchild, and retirement. The good news is that a professionally crafted estate plan will be flexible. Our Ridgeland, MS estate planning lawyers can easily update and adjust your estate plan whenever necessary.
What Does an Estate Planning Attorney Do?
It is the responsibility of a Mississippi estate planning lawyer to make sure that you have the proper legal documents in place to protect yourself, protect your finances, carry out your goals, and spare your loved ones from confusion and conflict. Ultimately, you are the person in control. An estate plan lawyer will sit down with you during an initial consultation to answer your questions and better understand your needs and objectives. From there, your estate plan attorney can help you craft a fully personalized strategy that best provides peace and security.
Get Help with Your Estate Plan from Our Ridgeland, MS Estate Planning Attorneys
For advice and assistance on creating an estate plan, or if life changes have occurred and your current estate plan needs to be modified, trust the Hancock Law Firm to provide sound legal advice and professional assistance in crafting a comprehensive, effective and enforceable estate plan. Call our office in Ridgeland at (601) 768-1204, or contact us online to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced Ridgeland estate planning attorneys. We provide estate planning services throughout the entire region, including in Madison County, Hinds County, Rankin County, Yazoo County. Leake County, Smith County, and Scott County.
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