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Estate Planning (Wills, Trusts, & More)

Planning your estate can be simple or involved depending on your level of wealth but also, less obviously, on your family dynamics and personal preferences. Whether it’s a simple will or comprehensive plan centered around a revocable living trust, I can help. Listed below is an itemization of the legal documents I can draft, followed by more thorough descriptions of each document.

Last Will and Testament   Probably the most common planning document, a last will and testament records your wishes about how to manage the property you leave behind after death. It states in clear terms:

  • who you want to lead the settlement of your estate — hopefully with one or two named alternates;
  • how and to whom your property should be distributed (this is your chance to explain who will benefit from your estate and how, when, and why);
  • who you want to be guardian of your minor child or children;
  • how your estate will pay bills, taxes, and other expenses;
  • several other important provisions for the proper and efficient closure of your personal and business affairs.

Revocable Living Trust   The revocable living trust is what you might call a next-generation last will and testament. Like a last will, a revocable living trust gives specific guidance about who is in charge of your estate after your death and how your money, real estate, and other property will be distributed. More than this, however, a revocable living trust allows for property management before you pass away — right now, and also when you become incapacitated. Trusts are the ultimate way to plan ahead so that your death does not disrupt your financial affairs, thus preventing needless family acrimony and expense. Revocable living trusts have many other potential benefits, such as the possibility of avoiding probate and heightened privacy. For those who prefer more thorough planning or whose wealth or personal situation merits it, revocable living trusts are a great planning option.  Top

Financial Powers of Attorney   These instruments allow other trusted persons to “be you” when it comes to managing your property. It’s nice to know that your personal checks, the deed to sell your house, and other legal papers need your signature to be valid — until you realize that your bank account and house are indifferent to the vicissitudes of life. More to the point, because your bank account, your house, and your other property may need attention when you can’t give it, the law gives you an opportunity by way of this document to remain in charge through a proxy of your choice. Because you may not always be available (or prefer not to be), the financial power of attorney offers peace of mind in knowing that your affairs will be handled well, your absence notwithstanding.  Top

Health Care Powers of Attorney   There may come a time when you cannot make health care decisions for yourself. If you become incapacitated, someone else must decide, for example, what hospital will care for you, which mediations you will take, and which tests to run and procedures to implement. In this difficult circumstance, the power of attorney for health care describes how you wish to be cared for and who you want to make these important decisions on your behalf.  Top

Authorization for Final Disposition   This brief document states how you want your remains to be treated after death. Do you want to be interred, cremated, or both? Here you can state in your own words what kind of religious or memorial service you desire and describe the details of your funeral and final disposition.  Top

Declaration to Physicians (Living Will)   Resembling the function of the power of attorney for health care, the declaration to physicians tells physicians how you wish to be treated while under their care. This is sometimes considered a backup document to the power of attorney for health care and generally includes less detail about the multi-dimensional nature of the personal care you envision for yourself. Also, the declaration to physicians gives no authority to physicians to act as your personal agent for any health-related matters outside of their direct control.  Top

Consent to Release Personal Health Information (HIPAA Authorization)   In an age in which privacy has become a front-and-center legal concern, a legal document is needed to allow your private health information to be shared with those who should know about your health conditions. So that those whom you know and love can stay properly informed about your condition, this authorization permits your health care providers to release to them your protected information in the event of your hospitalization or extended care.  Top

Probate & Estate Settlement

Adding to the hardship of losing a family member or close friend is the seemingly daunting task of settling his or her estate. Like estate plans, settlement can be easy or involved. Either way, estate settlement rarely presents the urgency of a health crisis or other emergency. In fact, investing significant time into understanding the nature of the estate and what has to be done to wrap up its affairs is nearly always the best approach. On the whole, probate, trust administration, and other settlement matters are more like marathons than sprints.

Sometimes you need just a little help, sometimes a lot. Either way, I can help. My services accommodate a wide variety of circumstances facing estates and beneficiaries. Although I can be the attorney for an estate, I am equally willing to offer temporary or background assistance or advice. Probate requires detailed preparation and attentiveness, but it need not be a headache. Call, text, or send me email to find out more.  Top

Advice & Education

Not all legal help is reducible to paper or a court case. A few minutes of supportive advice or a more structured group presentation can be valuable and sometimes all that’s needed. If you want to understand how your current estate plan works, whether any updates are necessary, or are just curious about how an estate plan would impact your family, it’s time to educate yourself. Because there’s no learning without some effort, however, my educational services are designed to be convenient, affordable, and individually tailored.  Top

WHAT NOW? If you know what you want, great! Call or text me at 715-301-0055 or send email to to get started. Not sure what you need, or do you just want to think about it? I am here to answer your questions, and I invite you to sign up for my newsletter (forthcoming) and to follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

Whatever you decide, I truly appreciate your interest, and congratulations for THINKING AHEAD!