Must Have Estate Planning Documents

For many people, the idea of estate planning simply means writing a Last Will and Testament and calling it a day. Unfortunately, there is much more to it than that, and several documents that you need in addition to a Last Will and Testament. I can help you with all of your estate planning needs to make sure that your assets are divided and/or distributed among those you wish to give to and in the amounts and manner you want.  I can help you to protect yourself and your assets before your death with the several documents you should preparein accordance with your personal wishes and needs.

Power of Attorney

Power of attorney gives someone that you trust the ability to act on your behalf should you become unable to do so. Without a power of attorney, the state may decide what happens to your assets even while you are still alive. The agent (person whom you assign to act for you) may make decisions on your behalf and in your best interest about your real estate, finances, and other legal matters. If you appoint a Guardian or Conservator in a “Durable” Power of Attorney document for yourself and the time comes when you may need one or the other to handle your affairs during your lifetime, your family members may not need to go to Court to appoint one, thereby saving your family time, money, and court involvement.

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Health Care Proxy with Advance Medical Directives

If you are not able to make your own medical decisions, you will need to name someone to make them for you.  There are fill in the blank documents that will be provided to you in a doctor’s office or at a hospital.  These documents are sufficient if you are in an emergency situation and you have not had an attorney prepare a comprehensive legal binding document for you.  A legally binding Health Care Proxy with Advance Medical Directives prepared by myself will be made specific to your wishes and will be made while you are clear minded, not under the stress of an immediate medical procedure or heavily medicated.  I will discuss with you how you want the last moments of your life to be medically decided, who you trust to make your medical decisions, and what additional medical decisions you would like your trusted agent to make for you, including who you want as your Guardian or Conservator should the time come in your life that you may need one.  I will have notes in your file to verify that you intended to make those decisions, should anyone try to contest the veracity of the document and your mental stability when you signed it.

Last Will and Testament and/or Trust

The Last Will and Testament is the backbone of your estate plan. If you do not leave behind a Last Will and Testament that clearly states your wishes for the division and distribution of your property the state will decide such matters for you. It is a good idea to consult an expert to help you in drawing up a Last Will and Testament that is solid and cannot be contested. I have the knowledge and experience to take care of this with you.

Atrust is an alternative way of distributing assets. The Trustor gives the right to hold property or benefits to the trustee, who gives these benefits to the beneficiary per the wishes of the trustor. For example, if you wished to leave a great deal of money to your child, with the limits that he or she would only get small amounts per month until he or she reached a certain age, you would leave the money to a trustee, who would dole out the money according to your wishes. Again, only a competent, experienced estate planning attorney, such as myself, should help you draw up a trust.

Guardianship Designations

Although some Last Will and Testaments contain a clause to cover the care of minor children in the event of the death of a parent, not all of them do. A guardianship designation determines who will care for your children if you should die or become unable to do so. If you do not name a guardian, the state will do so, and their decision may not always be in accordance with your wishes.