Estate Planning/ Wills and Trusts
Estate Planning assists you to devise and accomplish a plan designed to ensure that your family and financial wishes are met after death. Over a lifetime you will accumulate property and possessions with significant monetary and/or intrinsic, emotional value that makes up your estate. In order to determine how your estate will be divided, to whom your assets will be distributed, to protect your assets,and avoid time consuming and costly court filings, appearances, fees and taxes, you must create a legal estate plan. An estate plan may include will(s), trust(s), power(s) of attorney and health care proxy(ies) directing who will make decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated. Direction as to a person’s funeral and ceremonial wishes upon their death may also be included.
What is included in an Estate Plan?
A typical estate plan package drafted by our law offices will include:
- Power(s) of Attorney
- Health Care Proxy(ies) / Living Will(s)
- Possibly Trust(s) and/or Assignment(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, “intestate”, can be costly to your heirs who often cannot agree how their loved one’s estate should be distributed, leaving them to fight and you with little or no say over who actually gets your assets. Typically a person should have a new will drafted and/or Trust amended 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?
Proper 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, heirs at law, and your desired distribution of your property as well as your choice of a personal representative(s), Trustee(s) and beneficiaries.
SECOND, we will begin drafting these documents. During this time, we will communicate regularly to ensure that all of our client’s assets are covered and every question isanswered. During this time the client will 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 ensuring that the client acquires a good understanding of every aspect of the documents before signing them. We will break down the legal language into normal terms, so that you know specifically how your wishes will be carried out.
FOURTH, our office will plan and conduct the signing of the estate plan documents. If a will is not properly executed, the document will have no legal bearing upon the testator’s death. 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 the mental capacity required by law.
FIFTH, The client will receive the original documents, a copy of each document, and instruction as to where to store the documents. Our office will retain a copy for our own files.
Whether or not your loved one(s) had an estate plan drafted or had no will or estate plan at all, our law firm will help probate and settle any estate and/or aid any prospective beneficiaries during the probate process.