Family Law - Estate Planning

Estate Planning

Estate planning is the process of dividing assets and making decisions about what will happen to your assets after you die. It includes creating a will, trusts, and other financial arrangements.

An estate plan secures your wishes and helps your loved ones know how to access them. Otherwise, the court may decide how to distribute your assets, which can be time-consuming and expensive.

When creating a plan, it’s important to consider who will receive your assets, how they will be distributed, and how to minimize taxes. Our experienced attorneys can help you navigate these complex issues and create a plan that meets your unique needs.

Wills & Trusts

When it comes to estate planning, there are two key documents that you will need to create – a will and a trust. These documents serve different purposes, but both are essential in ensuring that your wishes are respected and that your family is taken care of.

So, what exactly is the difference between a will and a trust? A will outlines your final wishes regarding your assets and property. This includes who should inherit your possessions, how much they should receive, and when they should receive them. A trust is a legal entity that allows you to manage your assets during your lifetime and after your death. Trusts can be used for various purposes, such as avoiding probate, minimizing taxes, and protecting your assets from creditors.

There are some critical differences between a will and trust that you should be aware of. For one, a will must go through the probate process before it can take effect, which can be time-consuming and expensive. A trust does not have to go through probate and can take effect immediately upon your death. Additionally, trusts offer more flexibility than wills when it comes to distributions. With a trust, you can specify exactly how and when your assets are to be distributed, whereas, with a will, you can only specify who should inherit your assets and what they should receive.

Finally, it’s important to note that a will is a public document, meaning anyone can view it once it’s filed with the court. A trust is a private document and can only be viewed by the trustee and the beneficiaries. This privacy can be important if you want to keep your estate plans confidential.

As you can see, there are some key differences between wills and trusts. Both documents are important estate planning tools, but they serve different purposes. Understanding these differences is important to choose the proper document for your needs.


Power of Attorney

A power of attorney is a legal document that awards someone else the authority to act on your behalf. POA can be helpful in estate planning, as it allows you to designate someone to handle your affairs if you become incapacitated.

Two main types of power of attorney are used: general and limited. A general power of attorney gives the person named in the document broad powers to act on your behalf. On the other hand, a limited power of attorney only grants specific powers to the person named in the document.

A power of attorney can give the designated person a wide range of powers, from handling financial matters to making medical decisions on your behalf. You can specify the person’s powers and how long they have them. You can also revoke power of attorney at any time.

A medical or healthcare power of attorney is a legal document granting another person the authority to make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you cannot do so yourself. This could be due to incapacity, being under anesthesia, or any other reason where you are unable to communicate your healthcare wishes. The individual you designate as your medical power of attorney (also called a healthcare proxy) will have the authority to decide what kind of treatment you receive, what medications you take, and whether or not you should be placed on life support. It is important to choose someone you trust implicitly to make these decisions for you, as they will be acting in your best interests.

While a power of attorney can be a helpful tool in estate planning, choosing someone you trust implicitly and who understands your wishes is important. It would be best if you also had a backup plan in case the designated person is unwilling or unable to act on your behalf.

Living Wills

Living wills are legal documents that guide your end-of-life medical care. It can specify what life-sustaining treatment you want or don’t want, such as artificial ventilation or feeding tubes. A living will goes into effect if you become incapacitated and are unable to communicate your wishes. It’s used to supplement or replace a healthcare power of attorney, which designates someone to make decisions on your behalf.

End-of-life decision-making can be difficult for both you and your loved ones. By creating a living will, you can take some burdens off them by expressing your wishes in advance. A living will also help to ensure that your wishes are carried out. Living wills can be used to override any prior verbal statements you may have made about your end-of-life care.

A living will typically include guidance on the following topics:

• Life-sustaining treatment: You can specify what kind of treatment you want or don’t want if you are incapacitated and unable to communicate your wishes. This can include artificial ventilation, feeding tubes, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

• Pain management: You can express your preferences for pain relief, including using strong medication.

• Organ and tissue donation: You can indicate whether you want to donate your organs or tissues for transplantation or research.

You can create a living will on your own or with the help of an attorney. If you choose to do it yourself, it’s important to note that state laws vary on how living wills are created and enforced. Check the requirements in your state before making your document.

Please contact our office if you have any questions about creating a living will. We would be happy to help you through the process.

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