Last Will & Testament

They are public documents that state three main things, 1) to whom you want your assets distributed to when you pass away, 2) who you would like to care for your minor children if you don't have a separate Guardian Nomination; and 3) who you would like to oversee this responsibility. Everyone over the age of 18 needs a will.  Dying without a will is known as intestate, meaning the state decides all of the above and can charge a lot to do so.

Guardian Nominations

Statement of who you would like to raise your minor children if you are not able to do so.  We recommend you have both a permanent and temporary guardian nomination in place to account for your death, incapacity, or inability to care for your minor children.

Trusts

Trusts are private legal documents that allow you control how and when your assets distributed to the people you chose.  Since a minor cannot inherit assets, a trust is necessary.
 

Almost every parent needs a family trust, they are not just for wealthy families, they are for parents who want to provide for their children with a plan that helps transfer the largest percentage of their assets to the children in the most careful and thoughtful manner possible. The benefits of a trust are to allow your assets to be distributed privately (protecting your children from predators who search public records to determine which children are inheriting money), to your children via the trustees you put in place (rather than the court-appointed trustees who may charge hundreds of dollars per hour to serve), as soon as it it needed (rather than the 12-18 months it could take the probate court to release the money), minimize the amount of probate court charges (which average 5% of the estate), and minimize state and federal taxes (which can take over 50% of the estate depending on the total assets).

Financial Directive

A Power of Attorney helps you delegate authority to another person to handle your finances if you are unable (i.e. incapacity) or unavailable (i.e. traveling) to do so.

Health Care Directives

Health Care Directives may be divided into four documents.  

 

Health Care Proxy grants the authority a trusted agent to make health care decisions, both mental and physical, on your behalf if you are unable to communicate necessary decisions yourself.  Without a Health Care Proxy you could be in the precarious position of not being able to communicate how you would like to be treated and your family without the power to chose or authorize what care you need or desire.

HIPAA Release authorizes the disclosure of confidential medical records to your Health Care Agents to enable them to make the best informed decision on your behalf.

 

Advance Directive is a statement of your desire that the process of dying not be artificially prolonged if you are terminally ill and the treatment you would like to receive under less extreme circumstances.   Without an Advance Directive, your desired course of treatment will probably not be known to your loved ones, doctors, and health care agent (if you have one), and therefore, the decisions made will not be your own and you could end up enduring a course of treatment and enduring a life you never wanted.

Final Disposition Instructions and Authorization are detailed instructions for your health care agent on how you would prefer to be laid to rest, services to be held, and donations to be made on your behalf.

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Here are some FAQs we have received.  If you have another question, please email us at info@wilsonlf.com and we will answer you and add the question to this list.

What is estate planning?

Estate planning is the process of putting your personal, family, and financial affairs in order. The goals of estate planning are: (1) to maximize enjoyment an individual’s estate during his or her lifetime; and (2) to maximize beneficiaries’ enjoyment of the estate after the individual’s death.
 

Is an estate plan necessary if I don't own much?

Proper estate planning requires an initial investment in lawyers’ fees, in addition to the time needed to collect information and meet with your lawyer. The return on this “investment” may be substantial. We recently calculated that the savings (from probate fees alone) for preparing the estate plan of a $1 Million gross estate resulted in at least a 920% return. At this rate of return, making an “investment” in proper estate planning should be a no-brainer!

Why shouldn't I just use DIY online forms to save money?

We don’t recommend it because the cost of improper planning is often higher than not planning at all. A few inadvertent errors we have come across include: accidental re-assessment of real estate, resulting in higher property taxes; failure to integrate non-probate assets with the estate plan; un-funded trusts, resulting in unnecessary probate proceedings; and out-dated or inappropriate estate tax planning techniques. Because the risks of “do-it-yourself” forms and kits are so high, we cannot recommend this approach.

© 2020 WLF|TRUST&ESTATES

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Wills Trusts Power of Attorney Health Care Proxy Advance Directive Living Will HIPAA Release Life Estate Realty Trust Nursing Home Protection Planning