An “estate plan” is a plan that covers taking care of yourself and your loved one when you are not able to do so yourself, or when you pass away. There are basic documents that are part of every complete estate plan. They are:
Your Will is the document that lets people know how to distribute your property when you pass away. To learn more about Wills, check out Carole’s blog post on the topic.
- Durable Power of Attorney
Your durable power of attorney allows a person you appoint – called your “agent” – to manage your finances if you are unable to do so. If you are incapacitated, your agent will manage your bills, make investment decisions, etc. on your behalf.
- Medical Power of Attorney
Your Medical Power of Attorney names a healthcare agent to make medical decisions for you when you are incapacitated.
- Directive to Physicians
Your Directive to Physicians, which is sometimes called a Living Will, informs doctors whether you want to be placed or left on life support if you are suffering from a terminal or irreversible condition. You can also specify other wishes related to your healthcare in this document.
- HIPAA Release
HIPAA is federal legislation that prevents doctors from giving out your medical history. If your healthcare agent needs to make a decision about your care, you want your doctor to be able to share medical information with him or her. The HIPPA release allows your doctor to share this information with the person you designate.
- Advanced Guardianship Documents for Minor Children
If you pass away and your child’s other natural parent is not able to care for your child, the Court will appoint a guardian. Your Advanced Guardianship documents will inform the court of who you wish to be named as your child’s guardian.
Depending on your specific situation, your estate plan could include other documents such as a Revocable or Irrevocable Trust or a Family Limited Partnership.
Every estate planning attorney works a little bit differently, but here at Carole Callaghan Law, the process is fairly straightforward. Here are all of the steps that may be involved in your planning process:
If you have a Financial Planner, CPA, or other advisor who referred you to us, we will work with him or her to understand your financial background, your situation and needs. During this part of the estate planning process, you will complete our Estate Planning Check-Up or Estate Planning Needs Survey, provide us with basic contact information, and begin to identify and express your goals and concerns.
You and I will discuss in detail your background and family, goals and concerns, and any issues identified in the Estate Planning Check-Up or Estate Planning Needs Survey that require further consideration. At the end of this meeting, a fee range will be quoted based on a preliminary plan design. After the meeting, you will complete your Estate Planning Questionnaire and return it to me.
During this meeting, your proposed estate plan design will be presented to you in plain English. Together, we will work through the details of the proposed plan to create a customized estate plan strategy that meets your goals and objectives while addressing your concerns and anxieties. Depending on the complexity of your plan, this meeting can take anywhere from one hour to several half-day sessions.
We review the documents to ensure that you understand your estate plan and that it meets your goals and objectives. I will also educate you, and if desired, your family members, executors, trustees, agents, and beneficiaries about your plan, their roles in the plan, and why the plan is designed as it is. At this point, you will also sign the legal documents to implement your estate plan.
Once the estate plan documents have been executed, we will assist you with changes to your beneficiary designations and discuss other funding issues to ensure the planning is effective and works as designed.
Depending on the complexity of your estate, some of these steps may not be necessary. You can rest assured that Carole will not try to push a complex estate plan on you if a simple straightforward plan will do! Instead, she will listen to your concerns, and offer you reasonable options based on your needs. In many cases, she may even recommend her very affordable online estate plan!