The legal preparation and witnessed execution of basic estate planning documents such as a Last Will and Testament (a "Will"), Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney are essential components to a complete and proper Basic Estate Plan suiting the needs of most individuals. Though often overlooked, these necessary documents will ensure that health care wishes are properly provided, your resources are not unecessarily diminished, and your assets are provided to your designated beneficiaries. Documents comprising a Basic Estate Plan consist of the following.
Last Will and Testament...commonly known as a "Will"
A "Will" is a legal document that provides for outright distribution of the assets comprising your estate. A properly prepared and properly executed Will provides guidance for the administrator of your estate, and allows for distribution of your assets asyou direct, and not pursuant to the applicable intestacy statues or laws of the State.
Your "Will" designates the person(s) that will receive your assets upon death (known as your "beneficiaries"); and designates the person(s) that will distribute your assets (known as your "Executor" or "Executrix"). Your "Will" may also provide for designation of guardians for minor children.
In order to be legally valid and accepted for probate, your Will must be properly prepared and executed with all legal formalities, including proper execution in front of witnesses.
A "Living Will" is a document that will direct others, most often physicians, regarding your medical treatment in the event that you are incapable of communicating your wishes or decisions in the future. The "Living Will" designates the person(s) that will have power to make important decisions regarding your medical care, including the power to terminate life support.
Power of Attorney
A "Power of Attorney" is a document that appoints an "Agent" for you, and also authorizes your agent to perform certain specified acts on behalf of you, the "Principal". A "General Durable Power of Attorney" will authorize your agent to perform many acts on your behalf, including authorization to access bank accounts, transfer funds, and purchase and sell real estate and other assets. The "Durable" feature of the document will allow the appointment to remain valid in the event you are disabled and unable to make decisions regarding assets or personal affairs.
Proper and legal preparation and execution of the above documents will create a Basic Estate Plan for persons of modest estates. More intricate estate plans are available, depending on the need of the client. Consultation with a tax or accounting professional is also advised in conjunction with the preparation of any estate plan.
Preparation of your Will or your Basic Estate Plan is not burdensome or costly. In fact, your entire estate plan can be created with a telephone consultation, completion of basic information forms, and one office meeting. If you are interested in a FREE CONSULTATION regarding preparation of a Will, a Basic Estate Plan or any estate planning documents, please contact the office of Frederick A. Kiegel, Esquire by phone or email. Information forms and precise information regarding affordable legal fees will be provided by email, and your Basic Estate Plan will be ready to finalize as soon as you desire.