Estate & Incapacity Planning is a Process.

An estate plan is a plan for transporting one’s wealth. It involves people. Your family, other individuals and, in some cases, charitable organizations of your choice. An estate plan also involves your assets (your property) and the various forms of ownership and title that those assets may take. It also addresses your future needs in case you ever become unable to care for yourself. In other words, estate planning involves planning for life events as well as after-death events. Our goal is to make transitions during life as seamless as possible, whether they involve marriage, new births, illness, incapacity, or death. We strive to maintain the dignity of our clients by listening well and attending to details in our planning. As a former Speech-Language Pathologist working with families and patients who had sustained strokes and head and neck cancer, I am fully aware of all the pitfalls that may occur along life’s path. Although none of us can prevent the pitfalls, we can certainly plan so that we can maintain control of what happens to us.

Estate and Incapacity Planning is More than just a Will

Many people mistakenly think that estate planning only involves the writing of a will or a trust. Estate planning, however, can also involve financial, tax, medical and business planning. Wills or Trusts are part of the planning process, but you will also need other documents as well to fully address your estate planning and incapacity planning needs. Planning involves a willingness to capture the opportunity while you are alive and well to plan for your own future.

Estate planning also includes the following:

  • How and by whom your assets will be managed for your benefit during your lifetime if you ever become unable to manage them yourself.
  • Whether a Living Trust is advisable for you.
  • The best way to handle your homestead property.
  • When and under what circumstances it makes sense to distribute your assets during your lifetime.
  • How and to whom your assets will be distributed after your death.
  • How and by whom your personal care will be managed and how health care decisions will be made during your lifetime if you become unable to care for yourself.
  • Who will be “in charge” of your bill paying and decision making if you are ill, incapacitated, or simply out of the country.
  • How you would like your “end of life” experience to be handled.

Planning for Young Adults

Although you may not yet be married or have children, you also have planning needs. Once you reach the age of 18, your parents cannot speak on your behalf or make medical decisions for you in emergency situations unless you have given them the authority to do so through a Durable Power of Attorney and Health Care Surrogate. As young adults, you may be involved in a car accident or sustain an injury or illness that leaves you without the ability to manage your own affairs. You have the opportunity to name an agent (such as parent, sibling, or friend) to act on your behalf in the event of these unforeseen life events.