Everyone Needs an Estate Planning Attorney
When we think of estate planning, we think of large estates with lots of assets and lots of money. We think of the Will and the distribution of property. Of course that is partially true, particularly with your Will. You want to make sure that you dispose of your property upon your death and that it is distributed according to your wishes. A qualified estate planning attorney helps you determine the best choice for your unique situation.
Estate Planning Attorney Offers Far More Than Just a Will
Estate planning is important for everyone, and your Will is only part of an estate planning package at Bob Leonard Law Group, PLLC. In addition to your Will, we prepare a Statutory Durable Power of Attorney to take care of your finances, a Medical Power of Attorney to take care of your healthcare, a Directive to Physicians (Living Will) to let everyone know what you want in the event of a terminal or irreversible medical condition, and a Designation of Guardian to let people know who you want to take care of you in the event you become incapacitated.
Your estate planning attorney and team can even come to you if you are homebound or in a facility.
An Estate Planning Attorney Prevents Problems
Problems arise without documented plans in place. For every probate client who comes into our office with a well drafted Will and other documents, there are more who do not have this advantage. Following are some very real examples of what your family faces when you choose inaction over action in estate planning. You probably have examples of your own.
- A young couple has two children together. The wife has one child from a previous marriage who has been raised since a very young age by the husband. He clearly thinks of her child as one of his children. Shortly after the children begin college, the couple is killed simultaneously in an automobile action. The estate is divided between the children, with the wife’s child from a previous marriage receiving a much smaller share of the estate. The other children have funds to complete college; their response is that since the first child is a half brother, that what their “their parents would have wanted.”
- A 50-year old man dies without a Will. He has a modest home. He has another property he purchased with another person. He has a truck and tools. He has a common-law wife. He has 5 adult children by three different women. One of his sons predeceased him; that son has 3 minor children. One of his children lives outside the United States. After his death, the probate process becomes expensive and lengthy, taking the entire value of the estate. Each person claimed they knew what “he would have wanted.”
- A 45 year old woman suffers a serious heart attack. She has no Medical Power of Attorney. While she is unconscious and on life support, her three children spend their last hours with her arguing over whether she should stay on life support. Each person claimed they knew what “she would have wanted.”
- An 83 year old man has a life-threatening aortic hemorrhage. The doctors want to take him to another hospital via helicopter. He has no Medical Power of Attorney in place. In fact, he had two respected estate planning attorneys in the family and had put off preparing his documents. They asked his wife and daughter what he would want to do. They didn’t know. Fortunately he was conscious and alert and made the choice himself. Immediately upon recovering from that surgery he had a full estate planning package prepared.
Estate Planning is Your Last Gift to Those Left Behind
That last example was actually my father (check out his pictures in this post). He recognized that we would not be able to honor his wishes if he did not let us know what they were. He had a second chance to make sure he had everything in place and he took it seriously.
Five years later, when he was critically ill in the hospital, he demanded that the doctors prepare a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) document. Shortly thereafter, he had the option of undergoing another surgery or going home with hospice care. He chose hospice care. Before he left the hospital, he insisted on signing an out of hospital DNR. He was one hundred percent sure of what he wanted and he made sure everyone around him was one hundred percent sure.
My Dad blessed us with an incredible gift. He made the hard decisions for us so that we didn’t have to worry whether we were doing what he wanted. The truth is that we really don’t know what our parents, children, siblings or other loved ones “would have wanted.” Our perspective is colored by our own perception and wishes and our own ideas about what is right. If we don’t step up and get our estate planning documents done, we are letting our family down.
Working in a law office, I get to see the consequences of inaction. It never hit home for me until I was faced with my father’s death. He was an amazing father and an outstanding person. He thought of us up until the end and I will be forever grateful. Thanks Dad, for everything you did for me and for protecting me until the end. I love you. – Sydney
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Bob Leonard Law Group, PLLC