Plan for the future.
The right plan is unique to each and every one of us.
Whether your goal is to make sure your loved ones are taken care of, to secure your retirement, to defer income tax or to avoid probate. you need an estate plan.
Clients often ask me, “Why do I need a will if everything will go to my spouse or children anyway without one?” The short answer is that a will can lessen the burden of your loved ones when they handle your estate. Wills do more than simply distribute property. It’s a flexible document that allows you to do things like this:
- Appointing an executor for your estate, who won’t have to post a bond with the court
- Appointing guardians for your children
- Create a testamentary trust
- Make arrangements for funeral and burial
- Make donations to charity of money or property
- Direct how your property is to be treated
- Make it difficult to contest your will
The long answer is that a will is only a piece of a comprehensive estate plan that takes into consideration many different possibilities, such as if:
- what happens if you die before your spouse or children?
- who will take care of your children if you and your spouse pass while they are still minors?
- what happens if you and your spouse die at the same time?
- what happens if you become incapacitated or disabled while your spouse is still alive?
- what happens if your spouse becomes incapacitated after you die?
- what happens if you have a child who receives government benefits, and might be disqualified if the child inherits your property?
This is just a small list of the problems that a good estate plan should address. The number of questions that need to be answered grows as your life situation changes, or when you have more children, or buy and sell property. The estate plan is like insurance against your death or disability, and everyone should have one.
Why do you need an attorney to help you through this project?
A legal document website will certainly prepare a set of documents that looks like a good estate plan, and it may very well be a good estate plan – for someone, but not everyone. Estate planning is a nuanced field that will depend on the law of your state and your specific situation. Depending on your needs, the documents you receive from the website may not appropriately get the job done. The text of those documents may not be appropriate for your state law, or they might not be equipped to question you appropriately. Moreover, since a live person is not checking the product in most cases, it will not prevent you from making mistakes that would easily be caught by a professional. What’s the difference between the websites and me?
They sell a product. I provide a service. And in most cases, that one-size-fits-all product doesn’t come with a warranty.
If you are building a new house, are you going to hire an electrician to wire up the house, or are you going to look up videos on the internet to try to figure out how to wire the house yourself? Most people recognize that there is a risk of fire, loss, or death from improper wiring. Common sense dictates that even though you might be able to do the job yourself, you hire the electrician to ensure that everything is done properly.
For the same reason, you should trust a licensed professional to construct your estate plan according to your needs.
Together, we will discover the goals most important to you, and then we will construct the right plan for you. We may utilize any one, or all, of the following methods to achieve your goal:
- Last Will & Testament
- Healthcare Power of Attorney
- Revocable Living Trust
- IRA Beneficiary Trust
- NFA Firearms (“Gun”) Trust
- Irrevocable Trust
- Special Needs Trust
- Grantor Retained Annuity Trust (GRAT)
- Lifetime Gifting