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Estate planning documents that everyone can use

If your goals for the end of your life include protecting your loved ones from the chaos and confusion of an unplanned estate, you may have decided that this will be the year you begin building an estate plan. A well-developed estate plan can go a long way in reducing the stress that is common in the days just before and after a loved one's death.

Nevertheless, you may be uncertain exactly which documents will provide the most protection for you, your loved ones and your assets. While every situation is different and every family unique, it may help you to learn some general information about some of the most critical estate planning documents so you can make a more informed decision.

What is available?

One of the truest demonstrations of love for a family is a well-prepared estate plan. Many families find that the documents in an estate plan prevent disputes and confusion over the wishes of the deceased and allow family members to grieve and move forward. Your estate plan can provide such guidance for your family, not only for the distribution of your assets but also for critical questions that may arise before you pass away. Some elements of a complete estate plan include the following:

  • Financial power of attorney: The person you designate will manage your finances and legal matters if you become too ill to handle them yourself.
  • Medical power of attorney: This trusted individual speaks on your behalf when health care providers need decisions about your care, including what treatments to withhold.
  • Advance directive: As a guide for your medical power of attorney agent, this document outlines the kinds of medical treatment you expect and those actions you prefer doctors do not take under certain circumstances.
  • Trust: Among other benefits, your revocable living trust holds the ownership of any assets you fund to it so those assets bypass probate.
  • Will: The most commonly known estate planning tool, a will explains how you want your assets divided.

If you have these documents in place, you may have more peace of mind. Not only have you provided for your family, but you have also taken the opportunity to express your wishes. Your estate plan can spare your family the heartache of making those difficult decisions or erupting in arguments when they can't agree on what to do.

To ensure you are making the most of the tools that are available, you would be wise to meet with an experienced Kentucky attorney who can guide you through the process and help you achieve your estate planning goals.

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  1. Charles W. Dobbins, Jr.

    Charles earned his J.D. degree from the University of Virginia in 1974

    He was graduated from Washington & Lee University in 1970 with a B.A. with Distinction

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    Mark W. Dobbins

    Mark earned his B.A. from Emory University.

    He earned his J.D. from the University of Louisville.

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    Patrick T. Schmidt

    Patrick earned his B.S. in Accounting from the University of Kentucky in 1989.

    He earned his J.D. from the University of Kentucky in 1992.

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    Terrence L. McCoy

    Terry earned a B.A. from Dartmouth College in 1964.

    He earned his J.D. from Duke University in 1967.

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    Lisa Koch Bryant

    Ms. Bryant has extensive commercial litigation and bankruptcy experience. Prior to entering private practice, Ms. Bryant served as head of litigation for the Federal Land Bank of Louisville.

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  2. Wm. Stephen Reisz

    Thomas graduated from the University of Louisville Business School with a B.A. in 1973

    Thomas earned his J.D. degree from the

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    Sandra F. Keene

    Sandra earned her Bachelor of Health Science degree, with Honors, from the University of Louisville in 1982.

    She earned her J.D. degree from the

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    Elizabeth M. Jenkins

    Colgate University, B.A., Political Science, magna cum laude, 1983

    University of Virginia, J.D., 1992

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    Edward L. Galloway

    Ed graduated from Indiana University in 1967 with a degree in history.

    After obtaining a master’s degree in political science from the University of

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    Thomas G. Karageorge

    Thomas graduated from the University of Louisville Business School with a B.A. in 1973

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  3. Tacasha E. Thomas

    Tacasha attended Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts during the summer of 2001, where she studied courses in law and psychology.

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    Ayala Golding

    Ayala received her J.D. in 1994 from the University of Louisville, Louis D. Brandeis School of Law, Louisville, Kentucky, where she was a member of the Brandeis Family Law Journal, and

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    Kacie A. Wilkinson

    Kacie A. Wilkinson recently joined Tilford, Dobbins & Schmidt, PLLC, where she practices in the areas of business law & transactions, real estate, estate planning and probate.

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    Gwendolyn Chidester

    Gwen recently joined the Firm after being employed by notable Louisville companies for over 15 years in a variety of capacities including Corporate Counsel, Director of Human Resources, and Risk Manager.

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    William A. Buckaway, Jr.

    Bill earned his B.A. from Centre College in Kentucky in 1956.

    He earned his J.D. from the University of Louisville in 1961 where he was a

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    Terrell L. Black

    Terry earned a B.S. in Social Science from Campbellsville College in 1966.

    In 1969, he attended graduate school at Eastern Kentucky University focusing on

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    John A. Wilmes

    John was admitted to the Kentucky bar in 1977 and admitted to practice before the U.S. District Court, Western District of Kentucky in 1979.

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