A will is a basic, time-honored method for controlling the distribution of your assets after you die, and has both advantages and disadvantages. Wills are, of course, subject to the Commonwealth’s probate laws. It is likely that your family will have to go through the court-supervised probate process to give effect to your wishes. Wills are also public documents since they must be filed with the courts upon death. While wills can ensure that your wishes are fulfilled after you die, they do not cover contingencies that occur while you are still living.
Wills may be the right estate planning tool for some but not for others. My job is to help you decide what the best tool is for you. If a will is appropriate for you, I will help you customize it to suit your individual situation and to make sure your wishes are fulfilled after you’ve passed on.
Like wills, trust have advantages and disadvantages, depending on your situation. A Revocable Living Trust (RLT) gives you far more options in deciding how your estate is to be handled after your death. Moreover, a RLT also allows you to provide instructions during your lifetime for how your assets are handled if you are ever incapacitated and cannot make decisions for yourself. Trusts are also not probated, and your wishes concerning the disposition of your estate are shielded from public disclosure.
A Revocable Living Trust is a fabulous estate planning tool and one which I encourage clients to choose. But whatever your situation, I will help you choose the right tool for you and your loved ones.
Medical and Other Documents
In addition to the estate planning tool (RLT or Will) that you choose, it is essential that you include documents that help your loved ones with those difficult medical or end of life decisions. If you choose, I will include in your estate plan:
- An Authorization for Release of Protected Health Information as required by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
- A Health Care Power of Attorney authorizing your agent to make medical decisions for you if you become incapacitated.
- A Living Will informing doctors of what extraordinary medical procedures you do not want if those procedures would cause pain and discomfort and only serve to prolong the dying process.
- Memorial Instructions providing important information to your loved ones who may not be thinking clearly in their time of bereavement.
Power of Attorney
A Durable Power of Attorney is a document that allows you to appoint an agent to act on your behalf in case you become incapacitated and cannot make decisions for yourself. In the event you become incapacitated, your agent will have the power to make financial decisions for you so that your assets are protected and your estate is not compromised. I can help you draft a Power of Attorney that fits your financial situation and gives effect to your particular wishes.