Meub Gallivan & Larson assists clients in developing and implementing a comprehensive lifetime estate plan that carefully balances personal, legal and administrative concerns. We focus on the goals that each client seeks — for themselves, their spouses, their children and family, and their friends, too.
The customary documents for most estate plans are:
A will directs how your property should be distributed upon your death. It also appoints a person (the executor or executrix) to oversee the probate and administration of your estate. The probate of an estate is a legal proceeding conducted under the jurisdiction of the Probate Court.
A revocable trust covers property that is titled in a trust passes outside a will and is not included in a probate proceeding. A trust and a special kind of will called a “pour over” will can make it much easier for your loved ones to deal with your estate after you die.
Everyone should appoint one trusted person (spouse, child, friend, et al.) as an agent under a power of attorney. If you cannot act for yourself, your agent can act for you. It is most useful for financial transactions, but there are numerous other possibilities to consider. You can always revoke a power of attorney, or change the agent.
This document appoints someone to make healthcare decisions for you, from minor to major, but only if you cannot make them yourself. Like the Power of Attorney, you can always revoke it or change the agent. As with the former “living will,” in this document you can state your directions for end-of-life considerations.
This is a useful form that grants authority to your health care agent to receive all of your medical information in order to assist in decision-making.
Reasons an Attorney Is Important in Estate Planning
Although there are no laws that require the assistance of an attorney in estate planning, there are good reasons to hire an attorney with experience in estate planning. Here are a few:
A generic form will or trust probably has not taken into account the legal requirements of Vermont.
A generic form will not take into account the individual wishes of the drafter.
In the long run, a "do-it-yourself" will or trust may be more expensive to you and/or your heirs than consulting a lawyer.
For a trust to be effective, it takes more than simple drafting: the assets must be transferred into it. Without proper legal assistance, all of the tax benefits of using a trust can be lost.
Ignoring the issue of estate planning will result in your estate being distributed by the probate court in the manner imposed by law. You will have no say in how your estate will be distributed or who the administrator will be.
Although you may think that it will all pass to your spouse, depending on the size of the estate, your spouse may get less than you intended him or her to receive with the rest being held by a guardian for your children.
MGL has a great deal of experience in estate planning and will work with you to help ensure that your wishes are met.
If you want to direct the passing of your assets at death and keep taxes and expenses to a minimum, you need to look into estate planning with an experienced attorney. MGL has a great deal of experience in estate planning and will work with you to help ensure that your wishes are met. Contact us.