We provide guidance that goes beyond simply preparing paperwork. Basic planning can save you and your family significant time and expense, and ensure that your wishes are carried out.
We have counseled hundreds of families and individuals on the best methods for simplifying their estate planning. Most clients find peace of mind by knowing they have prepared their estate to help not only themselves, but their families.
For most clients, the following documents are necessary:
- Living Will – A living will is a legal document used to express your wishes about the use of life-sustaining treatment if you become terminally ill or permanently unconscious. Rather than various members of your family guess what your wishes are, you can make the decision while you are healthy to alleviate confusion and fulfill your wishes.
- Health Care Power of Attorney – A health care power of attorney authorizes another person, of your choosing, to make health care decisions for you if you are unable. Durable Power of Attorney – This document is often referred to as a financial power of attorney. Amongst other things, authority can be granted to allow your agent to sign real estate documents, handle your banking, and sign contracts on your behalf.
- Last Will and Testament – A will is a document that sets forth how a person’s probate property will be distributed upon death, designates an executor, and designates a guardian for minor children.
Everyone who owns any real or personal property should have a will regardless of the present value of the estate. Estates grow in value almost unnoticed through the repayment of mortgages, life insurance, appreciation of stocks and other investments, inheritances from relatives, and other sources. A will establishes how a person’s probate property will be distributed upon death, regardless of size and value.
People often assume that the only way their property will pass to their designated heirs is through their will. However, property held in the names of both husband and wife will typically pass to the survivor upon the death of one of them through joint tenancy with right of survivorship, but only if properly titled. Other property that has a designated beneficiary, such as life insurance, IRA, 401(k), etc., will typically pass outside the probate process. We can discuss these issues when reviewing your estate planning goals.
Most individuals wonder if they should have a living trust. Certain aspects of your life may make a trust worthwhile for you, such as young children, second marriage, assets in excess of tax exemptions, probate avoidance, or your desire to have greater control of the assets that you pass on to your beneficiaries.
Our clients pay a flat fee for estate planning. After a free initial discussion, you will be quoted an amount for completion of the whole process, which will not be due until we are finished, which is usually less than two weeks. There are no additional charges for telephone calls or meetings. All meetings and calls will be with an attorney. You will not be passed off to an assistant to answer your questions or sign your documents. Because you will be quoted a flat fee early on, you will be able to make an informed decision on whether to proceed and what documents you desire.
We also offer free wills to military veterans every June.