Wills, Powers of Attorney, and General Estate Planning

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“Death and taxes”:

I can’t help you with your taxes, but I can help you prepare a will. Whether you’re old or young, rich or poor, healthy or ill, you can expect to feel better and live better if your estate planning is behind you rather than ahead of you. In most cases, the drafting and signing and witness of wills can be accomplished fairly easily and simply. The basic components of a will (executor, guardian, beneficiaries) are common to most people, but a lawyer’s advice can help you prepare and conclude a will that takes your own particular needs and circumstances into account.

As simple as will-drafting might be, there are many ways it can be done incorrectly. Although the courts do have a discretion to “read between the lines” in some cases, improperly drafted wills can result in a great deal of grief to your executor and family, and can deprive your beneficiaries of the gifts you intend to give to them. A few hundred dollars for a proper will is a small price to pay for the assurance that your estate will be distributed efficiently, effectively, and in the way you expect.

Along with the procedural and substantive requirements of a “simple will”, consider the various ways your estate might require something beyond the basics. Those extra considerations can include:
  • expectations to respect the wishes of a spouse in blended families;
  • pet trusts;
  • special trusts for disabled persons;
  • unequal distribution among children;
  • forgiveness of debts;
  • transfers and other transactions prior to your death, to avoid probate;
  • management of literary, musical, or other artistic rights.

Note, too, that your estate plan might not be limited to a will: other documents (including representation agreements and enduring powers of attorney) might also be necessary parts of your overall plan.

I can, by the way, work with qualified accountants when your plans require special terms to minimize tax and to maximize the benefits of your estate for your beneficiaries.

What next?

Send an email message, phone my office, or complete the "Contact the Lawyer" form on this site, to arrange for an initial consultation.