Estate planning is that process where folks address their end of life concerns and issues. One of my law professors at Case would always say that estate planning is the most important area of law because it assists people in determining what happens to those assets that they spent a lifetime earning and growing. That is largely true, plus, there is little anyone to do to change what happens with their estate after they have passed. So, the state planning process must be careful, deliberate, and correct.
Generally, when we think of estate planning we consider four (sometimes more) documents. Two of these documents are Power of Attorney Forms. One Power of Attorney is to allow someone to make your financial decisions and take care of your financial affairs should you be unable to do so because you laid up or otherwise not capable of doing that yourself. The other type of Power of Attorney is a Health Care Power of attorney that allows someone to make medical decisions on your behalf should you be likewise unable to do so.
This sounds kind of crass, but the Power of Attorney Forms die when you do, they have no effect after you are gone. So, we look to two other documents. One is the Living Will, which addresses your wishes at those final, end of life moments, what medical procedure you wish or do not wish to have, and what you might prefer to happen with organ donation and such after you have passed.
The final document, and most well-known, I suppose, is your Last Will and Testament. This document becomes operative after you have passed. This document clearly states what you want to happen to your real estate, money, property, and special heirlooms. It determines who you want to handle the distribution of your estate and who receives your estate as beneficiaries.
So, as you can see, the four estate documents cover all aspects of life, what happens when you’re alive (the Power of Attorneys), what happens in the final moments of life (the Living Will) and what happens when you are gone (Last Will and Testament).
I am happy to meet with you to discuss all these questions - carefully and deliberatively.