Estate Planning is an area of law used to help clients ensure that their family and financial wishes are met after their death. Over a person's lifetime they will accumulate property and possessions with significant monetary and/or emotional value, which makes up their estate. In order to determine how your estate will be divided, to whom your assets will be distributed, and avoid costly court fees and taxes, you must create a legal estate plan. An estate plan may also include directions as to who will make decisions on a person's behalf should they become incapacitated, as well as directions as to a person's funeral and ceremonial wishes upon their death.
What is included in an Estate Plan?
A typical estate plan package drafted by our law offices will include:
• A Will
• Assignment of Power of Attorney
• Health Care Proxy / Living Will
• Possible execution of Trust(s)
Who needs an Estate Plan?
In short, every person should have some form of an Estate Plan. A will tells the world exactly where you want your assets distributed when you die. It is also the best place to name guardians for your children. Dying without a will or dying "intestate", can be costly to your heirs and leave you with no say over who gets your assets. Typically a person should have a new will drafted after any significant change in lifestyle such as marriage, divorce, birth of a child, death of a beneficiary in an older estate plan, after the acquisition of real property, or after the acquisition of any personal property of significant value.
What does the Estate Planning process entail?
A proper legal estate plan drafting can take anywhere from a couple of days, to a couple of months, depending on the size of the estate and circumstances surrounding the methods of distribution. However, each estate plan is usually created in the following five steps:
FIRST, we schedule and conduct an initial consultation that is completely cost free. In this consultation we will discuss the basics of your estate including your finances, property, and planned beneficiaries. It's is alright to not have all of this information decided on by this first meeting - this meeting usually helps narrow down a person's options so that final decisions can be made. Attorney's fees will also be discussed during this initial meeting. Some attorneys will charge clients by the hour for estate planning which can sometimes result in unusually high fees for the client. It is this firm's policy however to give our clients a flat rate fee for the entire package up front, depending amount of work predicted, so that our clients know exactly what price they will be charged, with no surprises.
SECOND, we will begin drafting these documents. During this time, we will be in constant communication so that every one of our client’s assets are covered, and every question answered. During this time the client will frequently be sent drafts of the documents to ensure that their wishes are being carried out exactly as they desire.
THIRD, we will conduct a final meeting in which the attorney will go over every item listed in these documents in detail, explaining their legal significance and ensure that the client accurately understands every aspect of the documents before signing them. The attorney will break down the legal language into normal terms, so that the client knows specifically how his wishes will be carried out.
FOURTH, our office will plan and conduct the execution of the estate plan documents. If a will is not properly executed, than the document will have no legal bearing upon the testator's death. Therefore it our primary concern to make sure that the documents are signed properly, in front of two non-beneficiary witnesses, and notarized accordingly, with all parties having proper capacity as required by law.
FIFTH, The client will receive the original documents, a copy of each document, and a set of instructions as to where to store the documents. Our office will retain a copy for our own files.
If your loved one had an estate plan drafted by our firm, had a will or estate plan drafted elsewhere, or had no will or estate plan drafted at all -- our law firm will help probate any estate and aid any prospective beneficiaries during the probate process.
Law Offices of Blank and Solomon
11 Beacon St, Suite 325
Boston, MA 02108
449 Route 130
Sandwich, MA 02563
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