Planning your estate extends far beyond the creation of a last will and testament. At Giordano, DelCollo, Werb & Gagne, LLC, we believe that comprehensive estate planning provides for a number of circumstances that must be accounted for both after we pass and while we are still alive. It is our mission to see that your wishes are respected in life and in death.
Establishing a Will
A last will and testament is the most basic estate planning tool. Within certain legal limits, it directs the transfer of your assets according to your intentions, and it can also express your wishes about burial, memorial services or other arrangements after you are gone. These arrangements may include planned giving to charities, provisions for minor children and accounting for death taxes if applicable. The certainty of having a will in place can go far to avoid confusion and disputes over who gets what within a family. If you have a will but you haven’t reviewed it in several years, it is a good idea to go over it with one of our firm’s estate planning lawyers to make sure that it meets current personal and family needs.
Not all of your assets will transfer by will upon death. Joint bank accounts, certain retirement benefits, insurance policies and certain forms of real estate ownership will create survivorship rights for a co- owner or beneficiary, most frequently your spouse. There might be some question as well about the proper title to business assets. We can review your situation and give you dependable advice about what property will be included in your estate and what won’t be.
Even if you have established a will, often your estate can be tied up in the probate process until distribution is finalized. It is important to see to it so that spouses and/or children have access to property and finances during this time. Secondarily, there are a number of measures that can be taken so that much of your estate does not have to pass through probate in the first place. By establishing revocable living trusts, pay-on-death accounts and certain types of property ownership, it is possible to to transfer assets before or after death without the hassle of delays due to probate.
Accounting for Incapacity
Many folks associate death with estate planning. However, many fail to take into account the ramifications of incapacity due to illness or injury when thinking about their future. Should you fail to make provisions for potential incapacity, often a great burden may be placed upon the shoulders of your loved ones. First of all, you could be leaving it up to the court to designate a person in your life to make decisions on your behalf. How do you know the court will make the right decision? Furthermore, that designee will be burdened by having to prove to the court once a year that your finances and care are being handled in a responsible manner.
If you are unable to be in charge for whatever reason later in life, it is best that you take charge now. By creating a durable power of attorney, you can name a trusted friend or family member to make decisions regarding your medical care. Regarding finances, it is important to name a member or members of your family who can have access to your accounts and make decisions on your behalf regarding property, stocks and retirement accounts.
Know the Score
None of us know what tomorrow holds. However, you have the power to know that you and your loved ones can be taken care of according to your wishes whatever may come. Call the offices of Giordano, DelCollo, Werb & Gagne, LLC today to schedule an appointment with one of our estate planning lawyers so that you can have the peace of mind in knowing you have protected your family and your assets for years to come.