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10 FAQS ABOUT ESTATE PLANNING

by | Jun 18, 2021 | Firm News

  1. DO I NEED A WILL?

 Most people should have a will. People with minor children, dependents and property should have a will.  A comprehensive estate plan usually includes a will and/or trust, advance directive, and power of attorney. 

  1. WHEN SHOULD I UPDATE MY WILL?

 An existing will should be updated upon divorce, the birth of a child, the death of a beneficiary or the death of the personal representative named in the will.   A will may also be updated if the testator acquires significantly more property, acquires unique property, or changes his or her mind about gifts, beneficiaries, or the personal representative. 

  1. HOW DO I REVOKE MY WILL?

 You may revoke a will by:

  • writing “Revoked” inconspicuously on the front of the original will,
  • destroying the will, or
  • executing a new will revoking all previous wills and codicils. 
  1. WHAT IS A TRUST?

There are many types of trusts.  Every trust is an agreement between the settlor and trustee where the trustee agrees to manage the settlor’s property for the benefit of the beneficiaries.
The most common type of trust is a revocable living trust (“RLT”) where the settlor(s) and trustee(s) are the same.  The beneficiaries are typically the surviving spouse and/or children.  

  1. DO I NEED A TRUST?

 Trusts are useful for people with property in multiple jurisdictions, those that value privacy, and those that want to avoid or minimize probate administration and its costs.  However, revocable living trusts are not useful to minimize estate tax or avoid the creditors of the settlor.

To determine if a trust is right for you, please contact our office for a consultation. 

  1. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A LIVING WILL AND AN ADVANCE DIRECTIVE?

A person that executes a living will or advance directive is called a principal. A living will outlines the medical desires of the principal.   An advance directive combines the living will with the appointment of a health care agent.  A health care agent is someone chosen by the principal to communicate any desires that may not have been anticipated in the living will.  A health care agent can also access the principal’s medical records.

  1. HOW DO I NOMINATE A GUARDIAN FOR MY CHILD?

 You may nominate a guardian for your minor children in your will.  You may also detail upbringing decisions.  However, the appointment must be formalized by the Court after the death of the parents. 

  1. HOW CAN I GET A POWER OF ATTORNEY FOR MY PARENT?

 The person giving power of attorney is called a principal; the person acting on behalf of the principal under a power of attorney is called an agent.  In hiring an attorney, the principal, not the agent, is the client, even if the prospective agent initiates contact with the attorney.   The client must have the legal capacity to sign a power of attorney.  If the client’s capacity is compromised due to dementia, Alzheimer’s or any other condition, a power of attorney will not be an option.  In such a case, the prospective agent may need to petition the Court to be appointed guardian. 

  1. HOW DO I BECOME A GUARDIAN FOR MY FAMILY MEMBER?

 An interested person may become guardian of an adult after filing a petition for appointment accompanied by the necessary supporting exhibits.   The petition must be accompanied by recent reports from medical professionals.   

  1. WHAT ARE YOUR FEES FOR ESTATE PLANNING SERVICES?

 Please click here for a schedule of estate planning fees.