The needs of every individual and family are unique. Below are some of the main components of an estate plan. Please contact me today so that we can discuss which options may be the best fit for your personal situation.
A will, also known as a “Last Will and Testament,” is a legal document that allows you to determine who receives your property upon your death. It can be tailored to meet your specific wishes and needs. A properly drafted will allows a person to maintain significant control over how property is inherited. Drafting a will may provide the opportunity to do the following:
- Make gifts of specific property (bequests)
- Establish a testamentary trust
- Provide for the independent administration of your estate
- Designate the executor of your estate, and
- Provide for contingencies, such as an heir predeceasing you.
A good will should simplify the legal process for a grieving family after death. Without one, the state will decide how property is distributed.
Powers of Attorney
One of the most important components of a complete estate plan is the creation of documents to grant an agent the right to act on your behalf, in both your financial and medical affairs, should you become unable to do so. Temporary incapacity can arise due to illness, injury, inconvenience, or general unavailability. More serious circumstances can occur due to irreversible issues such as dementia, Alzheimer’s, long-term coma, or even as one enters the final days or weeks of life. It is important to have agents designated to act on your behalf, using instructions you provided. Without these, the results most likely will not be what you wanted or intended to happen.
The term “living will” is often confused with Last Will and Testament. Unlike a Last Will and Testament, which takes effect at your death, a living will addresses the nature of the medical treatment you receive prior to your death. A living will is a written legal document that directs the implementation or withdrawal of life-sustaining procedures that you would receive should you experience a continual, profound comatose state or be diagnosed with a terminable, irreversible condition and become unable to communicate your wishes. A living will authorizes your agent to enforce your wishes, whether that is terminating life-sustaining measures such as a feeding tube, or removing all life support. A living will significantly increase the likelihood that your wishes will be honored, and will provide some comfort to loved ones who are burdened with the painful obligation of making end-of-life decisions regarding a loved one.
Probate is the legal process through which a deceased person’s estate is properly distributed to heirs and designated beneficiaries and any debt owed to creditors is paid off. The process of probate involves the gathering of documents to show the assets and liabilities of the estate. Probate representation ensures that an estate will be properly administered after a death in the family. Probate services include representation of the executor, publication of legal notices, assistance with the distribution of assets, and, in the event that someone dies without a will, representation of the surviving family members in court at an heirship proceeding.
Jennifer understands that families are still grieving during the probate process and she works to make the judicial proceedings occur as smoothly as possible, without adding extra stress.
Those who cannot take care of themselves or manage their financial affairs may need a legal guardian. Consideration of a guardianship for a loved one includes a careful evaluation of all options and the representation of the family in court at a guardianship hearing.