Why do I need an attorney for estate planning?
When someone passes away or becomes incapacitated it can be a challenging time for those left to carry on. While no one wants to think about preparing for the worst, having a plan in place can ease the burden for loved ones who are already suffering a loss and ensure that your wishes are carried out as you had intended.
At Meece and Lockamy, P.A., we understand that estate planning is more than just tax planning and post-mortem distribution of property. Planning a will, deciding who can make financial or health care decisions for you if you are incapacitated, and choosing who will look after your children are just a few of the complicated issues that a skilled estate planning attorney can help simplify. Most people are able to resolve their estate planning issues in two sessions with an attorney, usually lasting less than an hour each.
What happens if someone dies without a will?
Dying without a will is known as “intestacy”. The most important thing to realize about dying intestate is that the state in some cases may decide how your property will be distributed, not you. Typically, property will be distributed in some proportion to your spouse, if you have one, then to your children, again, if you have them, and then to other living relatives such as parents and siblings. If no relatives can be located, the state of your residence lays claim to the estate. Even if those guidelines include the people to whom you want to leave your possessions, without a will, the state specifies who gets what and how much, so some or all of your property could pass in ways different from your wishes.
What factors do I need to consider when planning my estate?
Planning your estate can seem like a lot of number crunching and organizing. Take a look at our estate planning questionnaire to help you compile your documents, accounts, and important information to help get you started or to help you prepare for your first appointment. This questionnaire is intended to be exhaustive, so don’t worry if you have areas that don’t apply to your situation.
What documents might I need besides a will?
Other useful documents to consider when planning your estate are:
Living Will-a document stating your medical decisions about whether to use life support or other means of artificial resuscitation if you are unable to speak for yourself because of mental or physical incapacity.
Power of Attorney-a document stating who you have chosen to handle financial transactions or decisions if you are unable to handle such matters for yourself.
Health Care Power of Attorney-a document stating who you have chosen to be able to make medical decisions on your behalf should you be unable to speak for yourself because of mental or physical incapacity.
Trust-a legal document that gives an individual (the trustee) the ability to control property or assets for the benefit of another person or organization (the beneficiary). For example, often trusts are used to transfer assets to minors or to address a specific need of a beneficiary. Please contact us for a consultation to discuss trusts in more detail if you believe you may need to establish a trust.
Our firm also offers assistance with the administration of estates for families and executors. We can handle all of the filings required by the Clerk of Court, publish notices to the creditors of the estate, and all other aspects of estate administration and distribution of estate assets. The procedures required to properly account for, manage, or distribute the assets left behind by your loved ones can be tedious and unfamiliar. We are familiar with these rules and can help you handle the details so you can concentrate on family and private issues during the difficult days following your loss.