Everyone should consider having an estate plan. Estate plans do more than distribute assets after death. An estate plan can also plan for incapacity. Estate planning with the attorneys at Procter, Callahan & Liska, LLC might include, but is not limited to, any of the following documents:
- Memorandum Distributing Tangible Personal Property
- Durable Medical Power of Attorney
- Durable Financial Power of Attorney
- Advance Directives
- Declaration of Disposition of Last Remains
- Appointment of a Guardian
Basic Explanation of Estate Planning Documents:
All of the following estate planning documents can be used for a variety of purposes. Selecting which documents are appropriate for a specific individual depends on that individual’s particular circumstances and goals. The attorneys at Procter and Callahan, LLC will work with you personally to decide what is appropriate for your situation. The following is a brief description of each document and is not meant to be all-inclusive. We will provide more information and recommendations to you, specific to your goals and situation, in our initial estate planning consultation.
Estate planning is an individualized process and no two estate plans are exactly the same. The attorneys at Procter and Callahan, LLC work with clients to consider individual circumstances and goals to create a plan to fit individual needs. For more information about what to expect from the estate planning process, please see Frequently Asked Questions. We look forward to your call and the opportunity to assist you with your estate planning needs.
The primary function of a will is to memorialize your desires for property distribution after death. This can include family members, friends, or charitable intentions. A will also nominates your personal representative (sometimes referred to as an executor), the individual who you nominate to administer your estate after your death. Sometimes a will includes the terms of a trust created after death if indicated conditions are met, such as for minors or special needs children. A will can also state your desires regarding a guardian for minor children.
Memorandum Distributing Tangible Personal Property
The memorandum allows you to select certain items of personal property (typically household furnishings) that you would like to go to specific individuals after your death. There are limits to the type of property that can be distributed according to a personal property memorandum; therefore care should be taken to exclude items from a memorandum that belong in a will.
A trust is not necessary for every person. Many different types of trusts exist. There is no “one size fits all” trust plan. A trust can, if assets are properly titled, help to avoid probate. Some trusts are tax planning tools, while others might be used such that the trust settlor(s) (creator) might have long term control over the assets held in trust. Other reasons to consider utilizing a trust include concerns about family members’ ability to manage funds, blended families, and ownership of out of state real estate. One unique type of trust is a special needs trust or disability trust. These trusts can be a very important planning tool for families with special needs beneficiaries who may receive government benefits. For more information on special needs trusts, see Special Needs Planning.
Durable Medical (Health Care) Power of Attorney
A Medical (or Health Care) Power of Attorney allows you to name a person (your “agent”) who is able to stand in your shoes and make medical treatment decisions when you are unable to do so for yourself. This is very important in future circumstances when you are living but unable to make your own medical decisions. You also may nominate a potential guardian should one be necessary during a period of incapacity.
Durable Financial Power of Attorney
A financial or “general” power of attorney prepares for future circumstances in which you are still living but are unable to manage your financial affairs independently. The document names a person (your “agent”) who stands in your shoes and manages your finances if you are unable to do so for yourself. This is a very powerful document and great care should be given to selecting the proper agent.
The Advance Directive memorializes, in writing, your desires for end of life medical care and treatment decisions under specified circumstances. This can be a very helpful tool for your family members should they be acting as an agent under your Medical Power of Attorney. Advance Directives are sometimes called “Living Wills.”
Declaration of Disposition of Last Remains
This document memorializes, in writing, your wishes regarding the disposition of your last remains (such as burial or cremation), services you prefer, and any plans you may have made for funeral arrangements during your lifetime. This document allows for important communication of wishes to family members and loved ones who may be responsible for funeral planning, enabling them to honor your final wishes.
Appointment of a Guardian for Minor Children
This stand-alone document nominates guardian(s) for any minor children. Nomination of a guardian may also be stated in your will. This is an extremely important step for the parent of any minor or disabled child(ren).