Legal issues can become complicated and personal very quickly, so acquiring expert counsel is crucial. Below are some basic questions and answers to help you get started with understanding what services you need.

What is an Estate?

An estate includes your money, life insurance, home, personal property, business, family, values, and even your legacy.

What is Estate Planning and Who Needs It?

Estate planning allows control of your property while alive, planning for you and your loved ones in you become disabled, and the ability to give what you have when you want to who you want and how you want. Estate planning is not just for “wealthy” people. Quality estate planning is important for everyone.

How do I name a guardian for my children?

Estate Planning makes it possible to properly provide for your minor children by creating legal documents including a Medical Power of Attorney and a Nomination of Guardianship for your child’s person and estate.

Do I Need a Trust if I have a Will?

A Trust is separate from a will and provides additional benefits that a will cannot offer. Trusts are designed and created to meet your specific needs and requests. They provide discipline for your beneficiary by requiring specific guidelines to be met. This is especially important for the long-term care of minor children who are beneficiaries.  Trusts can also provide a structure for the management and distribution of your assets. For example, if you have property that is difficult to divide, your trust can ensure control over this property and provide specific instructions for your beneficiaries. Trusts protect your loved ones from probate which includes delays in distribution, public disclosure of your assets and beneficiaries, court appointment of guardians and conservators and additional costs. By creating a revocable living trust, you are creating the ability to avoid probate. Your trust ensures that your assets go to your beneficiaries and fees are avoided. Your trust also protects your estate privacy.

Helpful Vocabulary 

  • Power of Attorney controls any asset not in the Trust, such as IRAs and 401ks. This only controls during your lifetime and when you are incapacitated or give power to act on your behalf when you are not incapacitated. The POA dies with you and the Will takes over. The authority comes from you by the signing of this document.
  • Person Representative control any asset not in your Trust upon your death. The authority comes from Court Appointment.
  • The Trustee controls all Trust assets during your lifetime and after your death. If you are the Trustee and become incapacitated your successor Trustee takes over.
  • Last Will & Testament: A last will and testament is the legal document by which you identify those individual (or charities) that are to receive your property and possessions on your death.
  • Trust: A trust is a legal arrangement in which one person or qualified trust company (trustee) hold property for the benefit of a beneficiary or beneficiaries.
  • Living Will: This form may be used to make your wishes known about what medical treatment or other care you would or would not want if you become too sick to speak for yourself. The main function of this is to serve for medical purposes only, not financial purposes.
  • Health Care Power of Attorney: In the event you are unable to make or communicate decisions about all aspects of your health care, this power of attorney authorizes another person (your agent) to make those health care decisions.
  • Durable Power of Attorney: A power of attorney authorizes another person(your agent) to make decisions concerning your property for you (the principal). Your agent will be able to make decisions and act with respect to your property(including your money) in the instance that you become incapacitated or you’re unable to make those decisions.
  • “HIPAA” Healthcare Information Release: This allows for those you wish to receive disclosures or releases of your health care information to be able to do so.
  • Declaration of Appointment of Guardian for Minor Children: This document declares who you would like to be appointed guardian of your minor children in the event that you are incapacitated or deceased.
  • Medical Power of Attorney for Minor Children: This document allows authorization for those who you desire to receive health care information for your minor child. This could include family members or caretakers who may be the child in the event of emergency.