Wills and Estate Planning

Creating an estate plan now will bring you peace of mind and relieve your loved ones of potential disputes, costs, and burdens upon your death or incapacity.  Essential estate planning documents include a Will and/or Living Trust, Financial Power of Attorney, Health Care Power of Attorney, and Advance Medical Directive (“Living Will”).  

Why seek an attorney’s assistance with these matters?

This law firm can help you feel confident that these important matters are handled appropriately and according to your specific expectations.  Unlike using do-it-yourself software or forms, you will benefit from actual legal advice and expertise.  Do-it-yourself estate planning can lead to mistakes that can cost you or your heirs a lot more than you saved in legal fees.

Consider these reasons for creating an estate plan with the assistance of an attorney:

  1. Control the disposition of your property.  Dying without a will means that your assets pass according to your state’s laws of intestacy (dying without a will), which may not be the way you would want to provide for your family, non-relatives, and pets.  Having a will allows you to make specific bequests, including to charitable causes.   
  2. Name a personal guardian for your minor children.  Without a will, the court will decide who will raise your children. A will is the only legal instrument you can use to designate a personal guardian for your children upon your death.
  3. Decide who will administer your estate.  One of the most important decisions you’ll make is choosing a competent and financially responsible person (or persons or institution) to be in charge of your assets after you’re gone.  You can name this “personal representative” in your will; if you do not make this choice, the court will choose for you.
  4. Minimize the possibility of disputes among loved ones after your death.  You can ease the strain on your family by expressing your intent with respect to how your possessions are to be distributed, what your funeral or burial arrangements will be, and who will have guardianship of your children.
  5. Minimize expenses and save on estate taxes.  If you plan properly, you can minimize or eliminate taxes that your estate will pay upon your death.  You may wish to reduce the amount of property that will be subject to the probate process, or avoid probate altogether, to minimize expenses incurred in that process.
  6. Designate a trusted person to make medical and financial decisions for you.  Prepare a Power of Attorney for Health Care and a Durable Power of Attorney for Finances to name people whom you trust to make medical and financial decisions for you in the event of your incapacity.  In the absence of these documents, someone must petition the court to act on your behalf.
  7. Protect your privacy.  Protect your family’s privacy with a living trust.  If your last will and testament is the only document that expresses your wishes for how your assets are distributed after you pass away, your estate will be probated and open for public examination.
  8. Get your property to beneficiaries quickly.  Heirs to an estate must wait for the probate process to run its course before receiving their inheritances, which can take months or years in some cases.  A properly prepared living trust can avoid the often lengthy probate process.