Most people assume that if they passed or became incapacitated, that one of their loved ones would be able to easily handle all their matters. Many do not realize that there are laws in place which dictate how your assets would be distributed upon your death. Laws, which you may not fully agree with.
It is also possible that if you became incapacitated, someone you may not have chosen to make decisions for you, could be appointed to make all of your financial and medical decisions.
Even for those of you who have an estate plan, but it is outdated or was created in another State, under that State's laws, you may not realize your plan no longer suits your needs or your wishes. Assets which you thought were protected by a trust, may in fact be subject to probate. It is also possible that your assets could be lost to the State Department of Unclaimed Property.
If you do not know exactly what would happen to your estate and loved ones upon your incapacity or death, now is the time to reach out so we can help you figure out if your current strategy is in-line with your ultimate wishes.
Our process is straightforward and very informative. We start by having an initial consultation. After we have had a chance to talk, we will provide you an estate planning questionnaire to complete. This questionnaire is designed to get you thinking about what it is you really want and how you want everything to be handled in the event of your incapacity, disability, or death. Once you have completed the questionnaire, we will again meet. The purpose of the estate plan questionnaire review meeting is to find out more about you, review your responses to the questions, discuss available options, and come up with the overall design of your plan. Once we have completed the questionnaire review, if you are still interested in moving forward, we will then work with you to draft your plan. We review all of our drafts with our clients because we believe it is important to make sure we captured your wishes correctly. After we have reviewed the documents, we can then have you sign them. We provide all originals to the clients as well as a scanned electronic copy for their records.
If you own real property, have minor children, or have assets that exceed $166,000, you may want to establish a revocable living trust rather than just have a stand alone will. With a revocable living trust, you can transfer your real property and other assets which may be subject to probate, into the trust for your benefit during your life.
You can change, amend, or revoke it at any time as long as you have capacity and are still alive. When your trust is funded correctly and maintained over time, you can save your estate and your beneficiaries the long drawn out process of probate, along with avoiding the high costs that are often associated with probate.
For people with additional needs, we provide other estate planning services. Remember, your plan is not one-size fits all, but rather a plan that has been tailored to your needs.
You see the advertisements for DIY plans. Get your complete estate plan for a relatively low cost. Some things unsuspected individuals do not realize is that not all of these online services for DIY plans include documents that are State specific. Since estate planning documents are State specific, this is something that shouldn't be overlooked.
Another thing to think about is that these online services do not provide much more than a fill in the blank form. I have seen numerous times where people have sued these services, have chosen the "plan" they believe is right for them, only later to realize that it was not in fact the best option. Sometimes these plans can give you a false sense of security.
Using a licensed attorney who specifically deals with estate planning is worth the extra money. Money that you may save on a DIY plan may end up costing your estate tens of thousands of dollars in court fees, which could have been avoided by using a qualified professional. We often remind our clients that they do not do estate planning every day, therefore how would they know of all the options available to them and their loved ones, or the potential pitfalls. We feel that our counsel and advice is what provides the most value to our clients in developing a comprehensive plan that works for them.