What is Estate Planning and Why do I need it?

 

Everyone will have an estate! Your estate is comprised of your checking and savings accounts, car, home or real estate, life insurance, personal possessions, and any other property owned. Without an estate plan (Will or Revocable Trust), the state in which you live will determine how those assets are distributed FOR YOU. In addition to determining where your assets will go, your Will is a tool that allows you to choose the person or people that would raise your minor children rather than let the Court decide their caretakers. It is absolutely crucial that your estate plan makes sure that your assets do not pass directly to a minor child, which would result in a legal guardianship that would cost thousands of dollars a year until the children are no longer minors.

Estate planning ensures that your wishes are carried out by providing instructions for who you want to receive property, what you want them to receive, and when they are to receive it. It makes things easier on your loved ones by having a clear plan that lays out your requests. 

 

Why Do I need a Lawyer to Help me do Estate Planning?

 

The documents drafted during estate planning are one of the few human acts that survive death. Not only does a lawyer have the experience to draft these complicated documents, he or she has experience advising people in making complicated, life-altering decisions that will make a lasting impact after they are gone. Do-it-yourself documents often don’t fulfill certain legal requirements, leaving your wishes unfulfilled and leading to confusion and oftentimes expense for loved ones after you are gone. A good estate planning lawyer will also consult with you and / or your financial planner to ensure that all of your accounts are properly titled and that all beneficiary designations follow the estate plan.

 

What does the Estate planning process look like?

 

My goal is to deliver complete estate plans within one week of the initial planning meeting. There are three steps to my estate planning process: Initial Planning Meeting, Document Review, and Execution Meeting. 

  1. Initial Planning Meeting: The initial meeting takes between 40 minutes and 1 hour, and it can be done in my office in Green Hills or over Zoom video chat. At this meeting, I will explain the estate planning process, and we will develop a plan for you that accomplishes your individual goals.

  2.  Document Review: Following the initial meeting, I will send you the drafts of the necessary documents for your review. 

  3.  Execution Meeting: The execution meeting takes approximately 30 minutes. You will review the documents, and I will make any necessary revisions. At this time, you will sign the documents and complete payment. We will have all documents notarized, bound, and sent to you via mail

 

What will be included in my estate plan?

 

A copy of each document listed below will be included for each spouse.

  • Will:  A will answers three basic questions: who you want to receive property, what you want them to receive, and when they are to receive it. It provides instructions for your family on how you would like your wishes to be carried out. A will also provides for the care of any minor children. 

  • Durable Power of Attorney: A power of attorney gives someone, such as your spouse, the right to act on your behalf as your attorney-in-fact, allowing them to buy and sell property or enter into obligations on your behalf. In some cases, a power attorney only takes effect when you are unable to transact affairs on your own behalf, which first requires the certification of a physician.

  • Advance Healthcare Directive: An Advance Healthcare Directive appoints an agent to make healthcare decisions if you are incapacitated or otherwise unable to make such healthcare decisions yourself. 

  • Living Will: A Living Will communicates your wishes concerning your medical treatment in regard to terminal illness, artificial prolonging of life, and organ donation in the event you are no longer able to communicate informed consent. 

  • Financial spreadsheet: The Financial spreadsheet includes the proper beneficiary designations for life insurance and retirement accounts as well as the correct way to title any taxable accounts to fall in line with the estate plan

 

Should I bring anything with me to the initial meeting?

 

Just bring yourself! You do not need to prepare anything or do anything in advance for this meeting. 

 

What is the timeline and how much does it cost?

 

My goal is to allow you to sign your estate planning documents one week from our initial planning meeting. Simple estate planning can range between $1,000 and $1,500, while trust work rarely exceeds $2,500.