Estate planning is an important tool because it gives you the power to make decisions about what happens to your property. It is also important because it allows you to decide who will make decisions for you if you should
become incapacitated. Estate planning is a topic of a very sensitive nature, and you will want an attorney who listens to your needs and wishes. I realize the difficult decisions that must be made, and approach this with compassion and understanding.
Estate planning services include:
WHY YOU SHOULD HAVE A WILL
A will allows you to determine who you want to receive your assets. If you do not have one, the state will decide who receives your assets, without regard to your wishes. In some cases, when an individual does not have close relatives, all of the assets can go to the state.
You will want to name an executor of your will. This is someone who you trust, to ensure that your wishes are carried out responsibly, affordably, compassionately, and timely. If you do not have a will, the state will decide who is in charge of administering your estate.
IF YOU HAVE CHILDREN:
You will need to name a guardian for your children to take care of them. You will also need a trustee to handle finances for them.
If you have children, you should set up a trust for them in your will. Without a trust, your child will inherit all assets left to him or her at age 18. You may feel that this is too young an age for children to spend responsibly. You may wish for them to inherit these assets when they reach a certain age, or when they graduate from college, or upon some other event. You may wish for them to receive some of your assets at one age, and some at another age, and the rest at another age. This can only be done with a trust.
You may wish to set up a trust for a child who is a disabled adult.
IF YOU HAVE A SPOUSE:
If you have a spouse and no children, you should still have a will. You may wish to make certain gifts to other relatives or friends, which cannot be done without a will. For example, you may wish for certain family heirlooms to go to a sibling.
You may wish to make certain donations to charitable organizations.
You may be able to avoid or reduce possible estate taxes.
You should set out instructions as to who will receive your assets if your spouse does not survive you.
IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A SPOUSE OR CHILDREN:
If you do not have a spouse or children, your estate could go to other relatives, perhaps those you may not be close with. You will want to determine which of your relatives, friends, etc. will receive your assets.
You may wish to make gifts to certain charitable organizations.
You may wish to disinherit certain relatives.
A will can prevent possible disputes among family members with regard to personal property.
POWER OF ATTORNEY
A Power of Attorney is an important part of estate planning. A Power of Attorney allows someone who you nominate as your agent to be in charge of your finances should you become incapacitated. You will want to nominate someone who you trust and is financially responsible.
A Power of Attorney will allow the person you appoint to pay bills and make bank deposits. A Power of Attorney can also avoid expensive Guardianship proceedings to determine who will handle these affairs, and will ensure that the person whom you wish to do so will be appointed.
HEALTH CARE PROXY
A Health Care Proxy is another important part of estate planning. A Health Care Proxy is someone who you nominate to make health care decisions on your behalf, should you become incapacitated. This is your Health Care Agent. A Health Care Agent should be someone who you trust to follow through with your wishes, regardless of how difficult it may be. A Health Care Agent must be aware of your wishes so that they can carry them through. You must discuss your wishes with your Health Care Agent, to ensure that they can follow your directions with regard to your health care. You can even write your wishes in your Health Care Proxy so that your Health Care Agent knows exactly what they are.
A Health Care Proxy can avoid expensive Guardianship proceedings to determine who will make your health care decisions, and will ensure that the person who you wish to do so will be appointed.