In Nebraska, "estate planning" broadly refers to the process through which someone determines what is to be done with their assets after death.
The first step in any estate plan is to figure out what you actually want to be done with your assets after your death. This is a very personal decision, and you should discuss it with your family, and others who might have a direct interest in your decisions. As for actually implementing your goals, you should probably speak with a legal and/or financial professional to figure out the best way to accomplish these objectives.
In addition to decisions regarding the disposition of your property, you should decide how you want to spend your final days. For instance, many people have a strong preference about whether and to what extent they'd like to be kept alive by artificial means. Whatever your opinion on this matter is, you should make it clear to the people who will be positioned to make such decisions for you, if you are unable.
A qualified estate planner in Nebraska may also help you maximize the percentage of your assets that go to your chosen beneficiaries, by minimizing the impact of taxes and court fees. Furthermore, preventing a will or other estate plan from being litigated in court will save your survivors an incalculable amount of time, money, and energy - and the better an estate plan is, the lower its chances of ending up in court.
Common Elements of Estates in Nebraska
Estate plans in Nebraska almost always have these elements:
Will: If you've determined who you want to leave your property and money to after you die, you should make these wishes official, by writing a will. When writing a will, it's always a good idea to have the assistance of an attorney, since many problems can come up which might make the will much more challenging to implement, or they might even void it entirely. Common problems include ambiguities in the terms of the will (a term which is not precisely written, so it can be interpreted differently by reasonable people), as well as failure to follow the obligated formalities.
Power of Attorney: Sometimes, people fear that they may become incapacitated (because of injury, illness, or mental deterioration), and that they won't be able to make their own decisions. Thankfully, if you want, you can grant a family member or close friend (or someone else you absolutely trust) legal authority to make critical decisions for you, if you are ever incapacitated. This is known as "power of attorney."
Funeral Arrangements: This is a very personal determination, and you should discuss it, in detail, with your friends or family members who are in a position to implement your wishes. Your funeral instructions should not be included purely in your will, since wills are sometimes not read until days or weeks after the testator's death. By that time, it may be too late to implement the decedent's wishes with respect to funeral arrangements.
Do I Need a Nebraska Estate Planning Attorney?
Because these decisions are so critical in Nebraska, it's almost never a bad idea to seek the counsel of an experienced wills, trusts, and estates attorney.
Interesting Facts About Nebraska
Nebraska is situated in the Great Plains region of the U.S. The Missouri River runs through the state, and is one of the top states for ranching and farming. The state's capital is Lincoln, which is where the state capitol building is located. The Nebraska Supreme Court meets on the second floor of the capitol building.
Many Nebraska court decisions have helped shape American law. One of these is the case of Meyer v. Nebraska (1923), involving the applications of Due Process rights under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Another important case is that of Nebraska Press Assn. v. Stuart (1976). The Nebraska Press case also involved constitutional rights, and has been cited as a reflection of the nation's emphasis on freedom of speech.
Nebraska's court system has played a vital role in the state's history. Many Nebraska court houses were constructed in the early 1900's, and some are now listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Historic court houses in Nebraska include those in Sioux County and in Dawson County. In addition to the county courts, there are also District Courts, a Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court in Nebraska.
Lawyers in Nebraska are familiar with the individual rules and regulations that make up the state's laws. You may wish to contact a Nebraska lawyer if you have any legal questions or concerns about a legal dispute. A Nebraska attorney can also be helpful during the planning stages of different endeavors.