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Estate Planning

Watch our brief introduction to estate planning.  Rather read than watch?  Scroll down for the same information in written format.

Estate planning is the who, what, where, and why of your accumulated assets and how you wish to live until you die. Why is estate planning so important? Because we all like to be able to control what we have, how it’s used, and who it will go to in the end.

It used to be that people were only concerned about was who was going to get - (or not get) their assets when they died. So, they wrote a will, put it in a drawer, and forgot about it – and sometimes even forgot where they put it! But today the question is no longer what happens when I die? – it's what happens if I don't die? So now, in addition to a will, you need to have documents in place that will help you take care of yourself while you are still alive. 

Estate planning is important if you have children and something happens to you. Who do you want to step in and care for your minor children? Do you have a spouse? Partner? How will he or she manage? Will there be any tax issues connected to what you leave behind? What if your spouse remarries? And the list goes on.

No one likes to think about one’s own death; however planning ahead can help your family avoid unnecessary complications, delays and expense. Understanding the terms used by estate planning attorneys is probably the first step toward planning your estate.

Below are descriptions of the most common documents included in an estate plan.

Durable Power of Attorney

Under a durable power of attorney you may appoint someone else to act for you when you are unable to do so yourself. The reason may be your mental incapacity or your inability to be somewhere when needed. The person you appoint – your “attorney-in-fact” – must always act in your best interest and try to make choices you would make if you were able to do so. Traditionally, powers of attorney expired upon the grantor's incapacity.  However, under new law, "durable" powers of attorney continue indefinitely unless revoked.

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