What Are The Basic Items In An Estate Plan?
(This Is A Transcript Of An Interview)
A basic estate plan would consist of a simple will and a durable power of attorney. A simple will indicates who the personal representative or executor will be of your estate, and how your property will be distributed. Then there’s a general durable power of attorney that can designate someone to act on your behalf for your financial affairs if you are incapacitated. There is also a HIPAA waiver authorization, which will authorize certain designated persons to have access to your medical records, and you can designate persons to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to.
There’s an advanced healthcare directive, which essentially will dictate what medical procedures you would authorize if you’re unable to do that at the time, including life support, organ transplants, tube feeding, etc. Then you have children. We offer a package of guardianship for children that includes temporary short-term and long-term things for the children, which would cover also very important that those standalone guardian forms will cover a situation in which a parent is incapacitated, but not dead.
Most people will name a guardian in their will if they have children, but if something happens such as some sort of accident where they are unable to get back home or something like that, then there would be the ability to appoint a temporary or short-term guardian as well as long-term guardians to make sure that the children are raised the way the parents want by the people that they want.
Why Do People Avoid Or Delay Setting Up An Estate Plan?
The number one reason that people avoid or delay setting up an estate plan is that most people just don’t want to think about it. I think it’s very common to put it off because it’s just not necessarily pleasant to contemplate one’s own demise. However, what I do find with clients is that once they’ve taken care of their estate plan, they really have a great sense of peace of mind. That’s really one of the biggest benefits of having a full plan; that you know how things will play out when you’re gone or if you’re unable to take care of yourself.
How Long Does It Generally Take To Create An Estate Plan?
Typically, the process that clients go through with me involves 3 or 4 meetings where we sit down and really go over the client’s individual situation, their goals, and their needs. We don’t offer cookie-cutter plans. Everything is really tailored to the individual’s needs, wants, and desires. Depending on the results of our interview process, that really steers the direction of how the plan ends up looking. People may call up and tell me they need a trust or will, and I may ask them, “Well, how do you know?” Usually, they don’t really know what they need because they haven’t really gone through the process of figuring out what exactly it is that they want to do. We are always asking, what is their goal?
From there, we work backwards and determine the best way to achieve that goal. And so that’s where, with the revocable living trust, we’re able to do a little bit more advanced planning for folks who maybe want to make things a little bit easier on their family and completely avoid the entire process of probate. That’s one of the advantages of a revocable living trust; that it is essentially able to have property outside of the probate process.
What Qualities Should I Look For In An Estate Planning Attorney?
The main thing to consider when looking for an estate planning attorney is that you want someone who is going to take the time to sit down and figure out what it is that you need, and then really tailor a plan to achieve that goal. It’s fairly common for lawyers to offer standardized “cookie cutter” plans, where everyone’s plans end up looking exactly the same. However, through our interview process, we really attempt to get a little bit more in-depth and uncover numerous scenarios that our clients may have not otherwise thought about. Really getting to know your client is essentially when drafting any type of estate plan for them.
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