Many people mistakenly believe that estate planning is only necessary for the wealthy. In reality, a basic estate plan is essential for everyone, regardless of net worth. Proper planning can minimize confusion and stress for loved ones after a passing.
What services are provided?
A Last Will and Testament is an inexpensive way to assure that your wishes will be honored. Dying intestate (without a will) can result in a judge determining the distribution of your estate, which may or may not reflect your actual wishes. A will allows you to exercise control over a myriad of personal decisions that broad and general state default provisions cannot address.
With a will you can:
- Choose a guardian for your minor children
- Choose the beneficiaries of your assets and grant specific bequests
- Declare funeral preferences
- Decide who will take care of pets
- Choose an executor for your estate
A Health Care Proxy allows you to appoint someone you trust — for example, a family member or close friend – to make health care decisions for you if you lose the ability, either temporarily or permanently, to make decisions yourself. By appointing a health care agent, you can make sure that health care providers follow your wishes, providing your health care agent as little or as much authority as you want.
A Living Will is a written statement that allows you to define your wishes regarding medical treatment. The statement is to be followed if you become unable to provide instructions at the time medical decisions need to be made. Such a document enables you to express your own choices in advance regarding medical treatment.
Why do I need a lawyer?
It can be stressful to think about estate planning, but having a knowledgeable attorney on your side can be a valuable asset who can help make sure that your final property distribution and healthcare wishes are preserved and carried out. Attorney Joseph M. Cirillo can help you avoid the common mistakes or omissions which could result in future contention or confusion.
What is the typical process?
Drafting and executing a will, health care proxy, living will, and/or power of attorney can be a relatively quick process, and can usually be completed in one or two consultations. You may schedule an initial consultation at our office or arrange a house call by Attorney Cirillo at your own home.
What can I do to prepare?
The estate planning process can be expedited by gathering the following information in advance:
Create a list of your property, such as bank accounts, investments, automobiles, and/or real property. You can also make a list of personal property that you would like to specifically gift to an individual, such as items that are valuable either financially or sentimentally.
Name and addresses of person(s) you wish to act as executor of your estate.
Create a list of the names and addresses of those you would like to leave an inheritance to. Also list anyone who you feel might contest your decisions, or may have a claim to your estate.
Create a list of all dependent children, and who you would wish to act as guardians your children.