Estate Planning Lawyer
Estate Planning is something everyone needs, but not everyone does. Some folks just never get to creating a will until it's too late. Others think they don't need to because they feel like they don't have enough assets to need a will or an estate plan. The truth is; while large estates need to be handled differently than smaller estates, everyone needs some documents, such as a simple will and testament in place, regardless of how many assets they have. Let's take a look at some of the documents we prepare when creating estate plans for our clients.
Last Will and Testament
Most people have some idea how they want their assets to be distributed after their death. However, if they don't put it in writing, the probate courts will use their own method, which may not be in agreement with your desires. In addition to your physical possessions, a will is essential for parents, as it allows you to outline who will take guardianship of your children in the event of your passing. The will must still go through the probate process, as opposed to a trust, which does not go through probate, but it is still an essential building block for any estate plan.
A living will deals with end of life issues, such as artificial life support and coma without hope for recovery. Some people are very adamant that they do not want to be kept alive through artificial life support or a feeding tube. Some are equally adamant that they wish to be kept alive by any means possible. This document allows these wishes to be known and legally binding. It also allows a person to designate an agent that can make the end of life for them in the event they cannot. This document is also known as a Health Care Proxy or an Advance Directive.
Durable Power of Attorney
A durable power of attorney allows you to name someone to make medical decisions on your behalf. Many people assume their spouse or adult child is legally able to make medical decisions on their behalf. In reality, without a durable power of attorney, they may not even be able to view your medical records. A durable power of attorney can give this person the ability to make a number of medical decisions. These may include: hire and fire doctors, consent to surgery, move you in and out of a hospital, assisted living facility, or nursing home, and other medical decisions. The decision to end your life still requires a living will.
A Living Trust is much like a Living Will in that it details your wishes in regards to your assets, your dependents, and your heirs. The main difference is that a living trust will only take place upon you death. This document bypasses the costly, time-consuming process of probate. It also lets your successor trustee, which is essentially the same as a the executor of a will, to carry out your instructions at the time of your death, but also manage your physical, financial, and legal affairs if you should become incapacitated. Living trusts are used mainly for clients that have complex financial and personal circumstances, as well as unmarried individuals. There are two types of living trusts: revocable and irrevocable. Revocable living trusts allow you to transfer the ownership of your assets to the trust, but you remain in control of those assets. Irrevocable living trusts allow you to permanently and irrevocably transfer ownership of all or part of your assets to your beneficiaries. Typically, a person would only do this if he or she had more assets than they or their spouse could ever use; this virtually reduces the amount your estate is taxable, saving more of your estate for your beneficiaries.
Special Needs Trust
If one of your loved ones is mentally or physically disabled, it may be important to have a special needs trust. This trust is different in that the beneficiary can enjoy the use of the property specified in the trust while also allowing them to receive indispensable, needs-based benefits afforded to them by the government.
Transfer On Death Deed
For many people, their home is their greatest asset, and with a Transfer-on-death deed, it’s now easier than ever to transfer the deed of a home to one or more beneficiaries. You’ll have complete control and ownership over your home, and you can change your mind at any time. Upon your death, your home will automatically be passed to the beneficiary, however debts against the property will be passed on with it.