Why do I need an Estate Plan, or an Estate Planning Attorney? 

It is important to think about Estate Planning as something you do for yourself and should not be overlooked.  One of the best ways to show your appreciation for your loved ones is to make sure they’re cared for – and that applies to the humans and animals in your life.

Make sure your valuables, mementos, and family heirlooms are handed down to the right person who will really appreciate them.  If you fail to memorialize your wishes in a comprehensive Estate Plan with a Will and/or a Trust results in the default rules – intestate succession – and it is the State’s best guess at what you would have wanted to be done with your possessions.

You don’t want a one-size-fits-all plan.  You are a unique individual with your own hopes, wishes, and dreams.  A Will or Trust should reflect the hard work you’ve done to create the life you have.  Make sure you have an estate planning attorney to provide you with your own unique design plan and not with a fill-in-the-blank on cookie-cutter templates.

A comprehensive estate plan can contain your wishes with as much detail as you want, including instructions for your funeral or memorial service.  Make sure your family has a chance to remember and celebrate your life instead of placing the burden on arranging final plans on your already grieving loved ones.

Sometimes the most loving thing you can do is protect children and other loved ones for themselves.  You might want to make sure that your children are financially secure during their lifetime or that a family member’s education is paid for.  Whatever your goals are, an estate plan can put provisions in place to make sure your loved ones are provided for, rather than squandering inheritance, having it seized by a creditor, or lost to an ex-spouse in divorce.

The following are a few situations in which creating or updating an estate plan would be beneficial:

  • You have minor children.  If you have not done so already, it is important to name a guardian for your minor children in the event that you are not able to take care for them.  You should also consider how you would like your children to receive any money or property.
  • You are married and have children from another relationship.  Blended families may face competing priorities of wanting to provide for their children as well as their spouse.  It is crucial to have an estate plan that meets your objectives.
  • You have a loved one with special needs.  One of the great things about estate planning is being able to provide for loved ones.  However, if you are caring for someone with a disability or special needs it is important to have their inheritance structured properly to not disrupt other benefits.
  • You own your own business.  Deciding what will happen to your business if become incapacitated or at death requires careful consideration and planning.  This type of planning should be done with proper advice from an estate planning team to ensure that your objectives are accomplished. 
  • You own a pet or large animal.  If you become incapacitated or pass away, leaving a pet behind who needs care.  Not everyone has the time and space for a pet or can afford to care for one.  To ensure that this family member is taken care of, you can plan for your pet’s care after you are unable to.