Estate planning is the process by which an individual or family plans for and arranges the transfer of assets either during life or in anticipation of death. A thorough estate plan usually encompasses planning for incapacity during life, as well as for making end of life medical decisions. While there are many free, online resources which can help you with your estate plan, it is important to understand that using a professional is not about typing forms. Instead, an estate lawyer well versed in estate planning, like those at The Vallone Law Firm, can give you invaluable counsel and advice to make sure that your plan accurately reflects your wishes.
When should I do a will?
While everyone should have at least a basic will, it becomes especially important when you have young children because a will gives you the right to name a guardian for those children in the event you pass away. Naming a guardian helps to avoid family in-fighting at your death, and ensures that your children will be raised by the people you trust to raise them. Other times to start or review your estate planning include any major life events, like marriage, divorce, death of a spouse or other family member, or any major change in your assets.
Can’t I do a will myself?
These days, there are lots of do-it-yourself will software and websites that can help you draft a will without an attorney. While these may be acceptable for the simple cases, they are not right for everyone. Part of drafting any will is not just the will itself, but understanding what putting your wishes, as expressed in that will, into effect. The value in having a professional estate planner lies in the counsel and advice that experience can bring to planning your estate.
What other documents should I have?
Estate planning also encompasses planning for disability during your lifetime, and appointing someone to make end-of-life healthcare decisions. Without a durable power of attorney, your incapacity can result in an expensive guardianship proceeding and a judge deciding who will manage your affairs and how they will manage them. With a properly drafted power of attorney, you get to decide who will handle your affairs, potentially saving you thousands of dollars in legal fees.
Similarly, with a properly drafted Health Care Proxy, you can decide who gets to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event you cannot make those decisions yourself.
What about avoiding probate?
Lots of news reports and experts talk about avoiding probate at death. While for avoiding probate is advisable for many people, it’s not for everyone. There are also many different ways to avoid probate for certain assets, and picking the wrong one can result in unanticipated problems for yourself and your heirs. The Vallone Law Firm can help you avoid probate through transfer on death designations, life estates, and revocable (or living) trusts created during your lifetime. Give us a call or click to schedule your free initial estate planning consultation today!