Estate Planning: Putting It All Together

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Legal and estate planning documents from a probate attorney

Estate Planning: Putting It All Together

Nobody wants to leave their loved ones with hardships or financial burdens if they become incapacitated or die.  Most people know what a Will is and what it does, but the concept of “Estate Planning” involves a little more than simply preparing a will.

Estate planning involves planning for any unfortunate event wherein a person can no longer take care of her finances, either because she has died or because she has lost her “capacity.”  We explain it like this: if a meteor falls out of the sky and kills you, you need a will.  If a meteor falls out of the sky, hits you on the head, and puts you in a comma, you need something else besides a will.

An estate plan can handle things that a simple will cannot.  It usually incldes:

  • A Will;
  • A Durable Power of Attorney; 
  • A Medical Power of Attorney; and,
  • A Choice of Guardian

Estate planning ensures that your beneficiaries are receiving the maximum benefit from what you leave behind 

Wills: A will is a legally-binding document directing who gets your property when you die, according to your wishes.

Durable Power of Attorney: A Durable Power of Attorney allows a person you appoint to act in your place for financial purposes when and if you ever become incapacitated.

Medical Power of Attorney: A Medical Power of Attorney tells doctors and hospitals who can make your medical decisions in the event that you cannot do so. 

Beneficiary Designations: Although not necessarily a part of your estate plan, at the same time you create an estate plan, you should make sure your bank accounts, life insurance, and retirement plan beneficiary designations are up to date.

Guardianship: A guardianship is a court-ordered relationship wherein the court appoints a “guardian” to oversee an incapacitated person’s financial or medical decisions.  A Choice of Guardian form tells the court who you would want to be designated as your guardian in the event one is necessary.  Many of the other documents we prepare as part of an estate plan are designed to avoid the expense and burden of a guardianship proceeding in the event that our client becomes incapacitated down the road.

Trusts: A legal arrangement through which a person or institution, called a “trustee”, holds legal title to property for another person, called a “beneficiary”.  We find that most people do not need a trust; however, on occasion, a trust allows for greater control over family assets after the passing of the Trustee.

We know that these concepts may seem a bit overwhelming, but that’s why we are here for you! We can help you navigate all the ins and outs of estate planning.  Estate planning does not have to be difficult.  Schedule your appointment with Abbott Law Office, and we will explain your options and guide you through the estate planning process.

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