Estate planning is essential for everyone. It is a common myth that only the wealthy need to create an estate plan. It is important to plan for how your hard-earned assets will be passed at your death, and to decide who will be responsible for making important financial and health care decisions when you are unable to make those decisions for yourself. I will work with you to create the best estate plan for your unique situation.
A typical estate plan includes:
Will - A Will is a document that leaves instructions for distributing your probate property at your death. It also directs how your outstanding debts are to be paid. Probate property includes real property (land) and personal property (bank accounts, cars, jewelry, etc.).
A Will does not control your non-probate property, which includes property that passes by contract, such as a life insurance policy. In the Will, an executor named. The executor is the person who will manage your affairs and who will ensure the terms of your Will are carried out. Also, if you have minor children, you will name a guardian for them in the Will. A Will can also include a testamentary trust that will provide for the continued care of minor children, elderly parents, or pets.
Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Matters - The Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Matters allows the person named in it to manage your finances on your behalf. This is a key component of an estate plan because most financial accounts, such as bank and brokerage accounts, are individual accounts. This means that the account is held in one name alone, and no one else has access to them. This document allows someone you trust to access your bank accounts, but provides protection in that this person may only conduct business on your behalf - and not for that person's benefit.
Power of Attorney for Health Care - The Power of Attorney for Health Care allows the person(s) named in it to make health care decisions on your behalf, when you cannot make health care decisions for yourself. This is important because if an unexpected medical emergency arises, there is someone available to provide instructions for your care.
Living Will - A Living Will provides instructions for doctors concerning the use of life-sustaining treatment if you become terminally ill or permanently unconscious, and cannot communicate your wishes. The Living Will does not affect the responsibility of health care personnel to provide comfort care to you. Comfort care means any measure taken to diminish pain or discomfort, but not to postpone death.