This article summarizes the four estate planning questions we receive most often from our clients.
- Is estate planning just for the wealthy? Absolutely not! Proper estate planning is important for anyone who has any assets, children, other close relatives or friends, or a favorite charity. Proper planning now will cost your estate – and your intended beneficiaries – only a fraction of the cost they will incur in the probate process. More importantly, proper planning now helps avoid many of the potential disputes and emotional trauma that may result from a disputed Will or an expensive, public probate process.
- What happens if I do not create an estate plan and die without a Will? If you do not have an estate plan, your estate will go thru probate and will be distributed via your state’s intestacy laws. You will also lose control over who receives your assets and – most importantly – over whom would raise your minor children. In fact, court approval – along with associated fees -may be required to do even the most basic of things, such as paying your spouse an allowance, paying recurring bills, and accounting for your property. Dying without an estate plan is far more expensive than establishing an estate plan during your lifetime, because a substantial portion of your hard work and savings will go towards paying probate court and attorneys’ fees, to sort out the mess you left behind, rather than to your spouse, children, and other loved ones.
- Should I create a health care power of attorney? Yes. A health care power of attorney allows you to designate someone you trust to make important health-related decisions on your behalf if you become mentally or physically incapacitated. Alternatively, in the absence of this designation, you could be subject to an expensive and potentially humiliating conservatorship or guardianship proceeding pursuant to which the probate court will appoint someone to take control of your assets and personal affairs.
- Why do we need an attorney for this? You want an attorney to help you with this process for one simple reason: to protect the people you care about. Your death will be a time of grief and confusion for your family and other loved ones. Those emotions may lead to emotional uncertainty, and may bring out the worst in people by revealing previously-hidden agendas or conflict. An estate planning attorney who has experience with these matters can help you draft a plan that accomplishes your objectives now, minimizes strife within your family, and increases the likelihood that your property is protected after death.
For assistance with any legal needs related to your business or estate planning, contact Fournier Legal Services at firstname.lastname@example.org or 860.670.3535 now for a consultation and planning session
Joseph E. Fournier is an Attorney and a CPA who has more than twenty years of experience in a variety of business legal matters, including start-ups and company formations, drafting shareholder and operating agreements, contracts, employment law, commercial litigation, tax planning and audit defense, and mergers and acquisitions (M&A). He also handles estate planning matters, such as business succession planning, wills, trusts, and probate.