I read an article recently that noted that many adults plan better for their Costco bulk shopping needs than they do for their estate at death. It is interesting how our minds sort out truly unimportant matters as more important than the last act.
There are numerous ways and considerations to settling your estate. And you do not need to have great wealth to do estate planning. You do need to have a desire to not burden your family and beneficiaries when you die though.
All elder law attorneys are not created equally. I am a CELA (Certified Elder Law Attorney) which means I passed rigorous testing to become a certified elder law attorney. I have practiced for over 35 years and time spent in a certain field of law does provide a greater depth of knowledge. Additionally, I have a Masters of Law in Tax which provides me with a unique ability to advise you on tax matters related to your estate. You don't need to hire a "Brad" but you do need to vet the attorneys that you are considering. A referral from a friend or associate should always be considered.
Second marriages, original children, stepchildren, families in conflict, children who may divorce, substance abusers, special needs family members, seriously ill family members, children with legal trouble all of these situations contribute to complexity in developing your Will. By writing these documents well many difficult family situations can be dealt with ahead of time in addition to avoiding probate.
Are you a professional couple with no children? This is the time to discuss charitable bequests such as religious organizations, hospitals, your alma mater, or nieces or nephews or other extended family.
Your plan is not complete without power of attorney documents. Your medical power of attorney designates the individual that will make medical decisions for you if you are unable. The financial power of attorney documents will designate the individual who can make financial decisions, access your bank accounts and pay bills on your behalf if you are unable to.
As a final note, you will designate a personal representative or executor to administer your estate upon your death. Bear in mind this is a very time consuming job which should not be designated lightly. It is a burden on whoever you choose so understand that they may wish to hire an attorney to settle the estate. Costs to do this are paid out of your estate. In the event you do not want to select someone in your family or spouse, most attorneys will agree to serve as your personal representative.
Bradley J. Frigon