Estate planning is the process of preparing and arranging one’s affairs in the event of his or her incapacitation or passing. Many believe estate planning is not necessary for them because they are healthy, young, without those who count on their support, financial or otherwise, or feel they do not have what would be considered an “estate.”
Contrary to popular belief, one does not have to be a multi-millionaire to necessitate an estate plan. Everyone has an estate and it consists of everything that individual owns at death. This includes one’s home, personal property, investments, bank accounts, retirement plans, any interest in a business or partnership, and even debts. While beneficiary designations dictate who receives retirement accounts or life insurance proceeds, a Last Will and Testament or Revocable Trust is needed to dictate how the remainder is to be distributed. Movies and television have depicted Wills and other estate directives as written by the elderly on their death beds. In fact, it is far more prudent to have an estate plan in place long before it will be needed.
Dying intestate, that is, without a Last Will and Testament or Revocable Trust, means that state law determines how distributions of one’s estate are handled. The “one size fits all” approach fails to fit the desired wishes of the individual. States create these laws of intestacy to “simplify” the process, but for most individuals it is more problematic. Even if you have a Will, it may need to be updated as circumstances in your life may have changed. Form Wills, those created online or from a “kit,” may not take into account nuances in one’s plan. Legal provisions in Form Wills may not be current or correct. These Form Wills, while simple, may leave your assets vulnerable, create confusion and disputes for your loved ones, and not carry out your wishes as desired.
At The Becker Law Firm, we provide our clients with the opportunity to prepare a comprehensive estate plan. This includes the Last Will and Testament, which directs how and to whom any property you own is to be distributed, the Financial Power of Attorney, which allows you to nominate a person to handle your financial affairs while you are still living if you unable or unwilling to handle them yourself, the Advance Directive for Health Care, which details your wishes in regards to health care if you are unable to voice them yourself, and the HIPAA Waiver, which allows you to authorize a medical professional to discuss your health and medical state with the family member or friend you nominate and allows that nominee to make medical decisions in your stead if you are unable to make them yourself.
We are happy to look over your existing estate plan and discuss with you any changes we feel that may be needed. If you are interested in how the Becker Law Firm may help you finalize your estate or have any questions, please contact us for a consultation.