Estate Planning

Estate planning is important for many reasons:

A properly drafted and executed will ensures that your assets are distributed according to your wishes. If someone dies without a validly executed will (and has taken no other estate planning measures), his or her assets will pass according to intestate laws. A will also provides for specific devises - such as ensuring that your daughter receives your grandmother's pendant. If intestate laws govern, there is no way to ensure that your daughter will receive the pendant. 

Another common estate planning tool is a trust. A properly drafted and executed trust will allow your assets to pass outside of probate. A trust also ensures that your assets are distributed according to your wishes and allows for specific devises.

Advance directives typically encompass a durable power of attorney, designation of health care surrogate, and living will. These documents are extremely important in the event you become incompetent or incapacitated. If you are unable to manage your financial affairs, it is important that someone you trust have the ability to step in and manage them for you. For example, if you are incapacitated, someone needs to be able to pay your mortgage. The document that allows someone to manage your financial affairs is referred to as a durable power of attorney. A designation of health care surrogate names a person you trust to be able to make medical decisions for you, in the event you are unable to make them for yourself. This is one way to ensure that your wishes are honored with regard to medical treatment. Finally, a living will is important for two reasons: first, a living will will help to ensure your wishes are honored with respect to artificial life prolonging procedures and treatments; second, it removes the responsibility from your loved ones - the decision whether to remove a parent or a child from life support is a decision no one wants to make. A living will dictates your wishes and directs your health care providers how to proceed.

Please call our office to schedule a free consultation to discuss your estate planning and probate needs with an estate planning attorney.