Estate Planning is one of the most important aspects of financial planning, yet most people don’t even have a simple will, let alone an Estate Plan.
Wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents are very important in preserving property and in getting it into the right hands.
In its most basic form, Estate Planning involves the creation of a Will, Health Care Proxy, Power of Attorney, and Living Will.
A Will is a legal document that describes your wishes. If properly prepared, it will guide your Personal Representative and will allow the Probate Court to finalize your matter efficiently, saving time and money, and reducing the likelihood of your Will being contested. If you die without a Will, your estate will be distributed according to a rigid legal formula. In other words, your loved ones are not able to determine what to do with your assets or who will raise your children.
HEALTH CARE PROXY
A Health Care Proxy allows you to designate a person to make all health care decisions for you when you are unable to do so. Without a Health Care Proxy, your loved ones are unable to make health care decisions for you.
POWER OF ATTORNEY
A Power of Attorney allows you to designate a person to act on your behalf if you are temporarily or permanently incapacitated. Without a Durable Power of Attorney, your loved ones are powerless to assist you.
A Living Will provides you with the opportunity to leave specific medical instructions to a trusted person.
A Homestead Agreement is recorded with the Registry of Deeds and protects the equity in your home and can help prevent creditors from taking the family home. Everyone should have a Homestead!
A trust can be used to avoid the probate process, allowing for transfer of assets to beneficiaries with no court intervention. It maximizes simplicity and privacy. Some trusts can also be used to help avoid estate taxes.
Many people have put off Estate Planning because they are too busy or don’t believe they can afford an attorney. But, most plans can be achieved for less than a single car payment! Thinking about death, accident or illness is never pleasant. Planning ahead is much more efficient, inexpensive and thoughtful than burdening your family or friends during a period of confusion or grief. We all work too hard to accumulate property to allow it to be wasted on unnecessary bureaucracy or to allow it to go to someone other than the people or cause of our choice.
If you are interested in providing your loved ones with an Estate Plan, we encourage you to contact us to arrange for an appointment. We consider this an important aspect of financial planning, and look forward to continuing to help you assure a bright future for your loved ones.
Attorney Pellegrini is an active member of NAELA (National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys) and also holds a certificate in Trust and Estate Planning.