BASIC ESTATE PLANNING
Estate planning involves the determination of who will inherit your property upon your death. Estate
planning also should include actions intended to minimize taxes and address issues related to the care and
custody of minor children and individuals with special needs.
The estate planning which you need depends on many factors. In general, most people should have a
will and should consider having a durable power of attorney and a medical power of attorney. If you have
young children, you will want to consider a trust in order to provide for the management of your property
during the time they are minors and perhaps for a longer period. If you have assets in excess of $600,000,
you may want to consider a trust designed to minimize estate taxes upon your death. Most important, your
estate planning should be designed to accomplish your goals and wishes.
It is important to remember that if you do not set forth your estate planning goals and wishes, the state
will do so for you. The West Virginia Code sets forth who will inherit your property upon your death if you
fail to dispose of your property in a will. How the state has determined the way your property will pass may
be different than how you may want your property to pass. The State also has adopted procedures for the
appointment of a guardian and/or conservator for you if you become disabled or incapacitated. State law also
sets forth with whom your doctors and other medical providers should consult if you are unable to make
decisions regarding your health care. Again, the decisions made by the state in these areas may not be the
decisions you would have made yourself.
The only way to be sure that your goals and wishes are followed is to document them in a legally binding
manner. This usually means signing a document that states these goals and that has been signed, witnessed,
and notarized as required by law. Specific documents are intended to carry out specific goals. These are as
C WILL. A will sets forth how and t