Estate planning is an important task that is often avoided by individuals due to their desire to think about their mortality. However, estate planning does not have to be a painful process. It is important for you to create an estate plan so that your children, spouse, significant others or charitable interests are aware of and follow your instructions should you die or become unable to make decisions on your own. Estate planning will generally entail creation of a will, trust, power of attorney or a combination of such documents to govern disposition of your assets and care of your person when you are no longer able to do so. Proper estate planning is essential in order to avoid unnecessary costs and delays. It can also help your heirs and devisees avoid extreme and unnecessary tax obligations that they will be exposed to due to lack of planning.
Proper estate planning can also deal with business succession issues for business owners so that businesses can continue to operate after the death of a key individual in the business. Through the use of trusts, purchase agreements and other instruments, smooth transitions can be facilitated where a lack of planning would result in significant damage to an ongoing business concern.
Our estate planning attorneys can assist you with preparation of essential documents, including a will, a living will, a health care power of attorney, a financial power of attorney, a trust, and more. Having these documents before you need them is often critical to avoid avoidable expenses and undesirable consequences. Good estate planning can help alleviate the risk of expensive probate litigation and unpleasant family disputes.
The basic cornerstone of any estate plan is a valid will. A will must be created in accordance with formal requirements that exist in statutes in the state where a person lives. If the document does not follow those requirements, the will may be invalid and, therefore, will not be honored by a Court that will determine the disposition of your assets after your death. Our estate planning attorneys can assist you in creating a valid will that ensures your directions will be followed upon your death.
There are many types of trusts that can be created for a variety of purposes. Some of the reasons that a person might create a trust are: to avoid probate proceedings; to ease succession to assets; to control disbursements to family members or others who are not wise financially; to minimize or avoid taxation of assets; to make sure a business is not affected by a death of a key person; or, to allow a person to receive supplemental assistance without affecting their entitlement to government assistance. Our estate planning attorneys can assist you in determining whether a trust is appropriate for your personal situation and needs and then create a trust document that will address your individual and distinct circumstances. Our firm will not recommend you create a trust if you really don’t need one or will not receive real benefit from its creation. If we do assist you in the creation of a trust, our attorneys will provide you instructions on how to properly follow the terms of the trust so that you receive the full benefits it can provide.
Living Wills and Health Care Power of Attorneys
A living will is a document in which you indicate your desires and directions to others concerning end-of-life care and procedures. It allows you to direct that your wishes be honored even in the event that you are unable to express those wishes yourself due to mental or physical incapacity, such as inability to communicate due to extreme injury or coma. A living will should not be confused with an actual will, which disposes of your possessions and can direct disposition of your body after your death. Rather, it is a document that allows you to state your wishes as to what emergency medical care should be provided to you if you are unable to direct that care at the time it is needed. Living wills have great legal significance for both the person creating it and their loved ones. Our estate planning attorneys are prepared to assist you in carefully preparing and executing a living will in conjunction with your other estate planning documents so that your wishes are followed in the event you can’t make those decisions at the time direction is needed by your caregivers.
A health care or medical power of attorney is a document that grants authority to a trusted person of your choosing, an agent, in the event that you are unable to make medical decisions on your own behalf, due to infirmity, injury, illness or incapacity. Such documents typically do not grant this authority immediately, but are only in effect in the event you are unable to make your own decisions. When that happens, your agent is usually given authority to do things like review your medical records, consult with your doctors, and consent to treatment on your behalf. Our estate planning attorneys are ready to assist you in the preparation of a health care power of attorney so that you can choose the person that will follow your instructions with regard to your care if you are unable to give those instructions yourself.
To set up an appointment with one of our estate planning attorneys, please call our office at 520-795-7300.