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Estate Planning

Lisa Ellis works closely with individuals and families in creating and implementing individualized estate planning solutions.  No matter the net worth, every adult should have an estate plan to protect themselves, their loved ones, and assets during their lifetime and after death.

Part of the estate planning process is deciding who will make decisions for you when you are not able to do so because of incapacity. It includes a discussion about what you do or do not want done to preserve your life during a serious medical event and how all your assets will be distributed at your death. Your estate plan should be prepared for your current needs and revisited as your needs change. Your estate planning should be done with an experienced estate planning attorney to make sure it survives your incapacity.

An estate plan involves a Last Will and Testament, Durable Power of Attorney for Finance, Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, and Advanced Directive.  You may be putting off this process or not sure about what kind of estate planning is right for you.  I will listen to your goals for your health care decisions, assets, and how you want your estate to be passed down and help you decide on the estate planning options which are right for you. 

Will: A Will provides instructions for distributing individual assets to your family and other beneficiaries upon your death.  The provisions in the will state how you want your estate to be handled and you appoint a personal representative to carry out your wishes when you die.

Durable Power of Attorney: Durable Powers of Attorney are a very important part of an estate plan. Durable Powers of Attorney continues during incapacity and it is more important than a Will as an estate planning document.

A Durable Power of Attorney for Finance is a legal document which appoints another person to act on your behalf and terminates upon your death.  The person you appoint (agent or attorney-in-fact) has the powers you designate to financially manage your assets if you become incapacitated.  If you don’t have a proper Durable Power of Attorney in place and you do get sick or become incapacitated, it’s very possible that your family will have to go to court to pursue legal guardianship for you. Having a Durable Power of Attorney in place is preferrable to a guardianship because it is less expensive, less time-consuming and it preserves your rights.

A Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care authorizes someone to make medical decisions for you in the event that you are unable to do so yourself.  You should also have conversations with your family prior to becoming incapacitated so they know what you would want.

Advanced Directive:  An Advanced Directive is a written expression of your intentions regarding the use of life-saving measures in the event you become incapacitated, in a vegetative state or otherwise unable to communicate your wishes to a health care provider.  An Advanced Directive will allow others to be in a position to communicate these wishes for you.

Trust:: A revocable living trust is a type of trust often used in an estate planning.  There are three important roles in a revocable trust:  The grantor, generally you, creates the trust and transfers assets to it.  The beneficiaries, often you and your family, receive imcome and/or principal according to the trust’s terms.  A trustee, who could be you, a family member or a corporate trustee, manages the trust assets.  The revocable living trust can be used to provide for continued management of finances throughout your lifetime and if you become incapacitated.  The revocable living trust can also be used at your death and for heirs.