Wills & Trusts
Documenting Your Decisions
An attorney can help you document your desires clearly and can provide guidance to your family and/or representatives during a difficult time, when you would be unable to do so yourself. There are many tools that can be used, but they generally break down into four categories: wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and advance health care directives.
A Last Will and Testament provides for the care of minor children by establishing guardianship and dictates how you want your remaining assets are divided among your heirs. An executor or administrator is named to oversee the distribution of assets and pay any taxes, debts, or other obligations that are due.
A Trust is a separate legal entity that is structured to hold assets that you transfer to it. Trusts help prevent financial uncertainty, delays, and family discord after death by directing the prompt distribution of the estate. Unlike a Will, the contents of a Trust typically avoid Probate and are also kept private. Some Trusts can be used to reduce taxes.
A Power of Attorney allows a designated individual to handle critical financial transactions on your behalf and is especially important if you become incapacitated. The powers granted can be very broad or extremely limited and can range from signing checks for household expenses, to arranging the sale of property, to managing a business.
An Advance Healthcare Directive (also called a Healthcare Power of Attorney) expresses your preferences concerning life-sustaining procedures, healthcare decisions, and the general care you wish to receive in the event of incapacitation.