Rhodes Law Firm»Wills & Estate Planning

Wills & Estate Planning

Family estate planning - photo of family

Estate Planning is a broad topic that includes Wills, Trusts, Powers-of-Attorney, Health-Care Powers-of-Attorney, Living Wills, and each family’s needs.  We believe you should have estate planning documents tailor-made for you at a reasonable price.

An effective estate plan will cover three basic issues in the event of your death or disability:

  • If you have children, who will care for them and how?
  • Who will own or manage your assets (your home, investments, etc.) for you, your children or grandchildren and how?
  • If you are ever unable to make healthcare decisions for yourself, who will make them for you and how?

Last Will and testament - update your will

 

Our experience and knowledge is directed at helping you answer these questions and develop an estate plan that will ensure your wishes are followed.  For example:

If you are married and have children from a prior marriage, do you wish to leave assets in such a way that your spouse can access your assets after your death, yet, at their death, the remainder of your assets are guaranteed to go to your children?

If you are married without children but your parents are living, do you want all your assets to go to your spouse?  (If you do, you need a will.)

If one or more of your children are minors (under the age of 18), do you want their guardian to also manage your assets for the benefit of your children or would you want someone else to do that?

Wills

In addition to directing what will be done with your personal belongings, investments and other assets if you should die, wills also make provision for your children’s care, can be the vehicle for establishment of a trust and should make your wishes clear to your survivors.

Trusts
Through the establishment of a trust, your investments, life insurance and other assets transferred to the trust, before or after your death, can provide funds for the benefit of those you love without those beneficiaries exercising control over the assets.

Living Trusts
Clients often ask about Living Trusts, having heard perhaps that everyone should have one.   Our answer is that some people will benefit from creating a Living Trust, but for many people, if a trust is a needed, a Testamentary Trust will generally be sufficient.  This type of trust is generally far less expensive and cumbersome.

Powers of Attorney
In the event you are ever unable to make reasoned decisions, a power of attorney set limits and establish guidelines for how your finances will be managed and who will manage them. For instance, what should be done with your assets if you are temporarily unable to make decisions, if you need long-term care, or if you need nursing home care and government assistance to pay for it.

Health Care Powers of Attorney
If you become unable to make decisions or communicate with others but need medical treatment, someone else will decide whether and what care you will receive. You can choose that person now, while you are mentally capable, by naming them as your health care agent in a Health Care Power of Attorney. You can also give your agent clear guidance, setting the boundaries of their authority, and provide for an alternate agent.

Living Wills

An Advance Directive or “Living Will” describes the types of medical treatment you want and do not want in the event your health deteriorates. This generally pertains to when you would want your doctors to stop life-sustaining measures and allow you to die. Like the Health Care Power of Attorney, it is authoritative only if you are unable to make or communicate health care decisions.

An Advance Directive can be quite complicated, if necessary, specifying many circumstances to which it will apply and what types of treatments may or will be withdrawn or withheld under each circumstance.  We generally recommend our clients have a Health Care Power of Attorney which includes advance directive provisions.