What Are The Basic Components Of An Estate Plan?
The basic parts of an estate plan are as follows: The last will and testament is substantially your list of instructions to the probate court. This advises the court and your heirs as to what you want done with your assets. Second to that is a durable power of attorney. The durable power of attorney allows the person whom you choose to sign your name to certain legal documents, and thereby take care of your affairs, subject to the law. There are limitations on what a power of attorney can handle, but subject to those limitations the person holding your power of attorney will be able to conduct your financial affairs on your behalf.
Third, the medical power of attorney allows the person whom you have appointed to sign consents for medical treatment on your behalf. If you are unable to receive information or unable to make decisions because of your medical condition, the medical care providers will still want someone to sign consents for care. The person holding your medical power of attorney is allowed to execute those documents on your behalf. Similar to that, but not the same, is the advanced directive for healthcare.
The advanced directive for healthcare is the document whereby you advise your medical care providers and the courts as to what medical care you want to receive when you are near the end of your life. You can accept or decline a feeding tube, for example. You can accept or decline CPR, surgery, or other medical care. But this document generally applies when you are near the end of your life.
In many cases people who are preparing estate plans will supplement these basic documents with trusts. Trusts are of two basic types: a revocable trust, also known as a living trust, and an irrevocable trust which is sometimes known as an asset protection trust. These trusts will typically avoid the necessity of probate for the assets that belong to the trust.
In addition, trusts can be useful vehicles to manage your property even if you are alive but partially or fully incapacitated. These trusts are substantially similar to creating your own personal corporation. You will appoint the people whom you trust when you are unable to manage your affairs. The assets will be titled in the name of the trust to the control of those trustees. You will have a set of rules similar to corporate governance rules whereby you will have described what will happen to your assets, and when those actions will take place. After you have created a trust, you need to title your assets in the name of your trust before your rules can become effective. Therefore, one of the common parts of an estate plan will also be a deed whereby you transfer the title to your real estate into the name of your trust.
How Long Does It Generally Take To Create An Estate Plan?
The time that it takes to create an estate plan can vary very drastically depending upon need. There are times where we receive calls from people who are hospitalized with terrible illnesses, and they know that they do not have a lot of time. Usually we are able and willing to drop what we are doing and put such cases ahead of everyone else to create and fund a complete estate plan in less than a week in that emergency situation. Telling the law office to stop everything they are doing and work only on your case for a week can, however, be somewhat expensive.
Generally speaking, we want people to allow us about a month and a half to do a full estate plan. That has a great advantage in that when we have this amount of time we can do your estate plan and work everything out without rushing through the task. At the same time, we are working on lots of other estate plans, so there is not as much expense. An estate plan can be done in a week if necessary, but we like to have six weeks because it is cheaper for you.
What Are The Qualities That A Good Estate Planning Attorney Should Have?
Estate planning is like any other learned skill. Whether it be an eye surgeon or someone who is an athlete, practice is important. If your estate planning attorney has only been out of law school for six months, you are not going to receive the same quality of work as you will from an attorney who has been studying estate plans for many years. Similarly, an attorney who does lots of estate plans will reasonably be expected to have a better knowledge and more skill and have more education on estate plans than the practitioner that does only a few estate plans.
If planning your estate is important to you and you really want your family to receive the greatest benefit possible, find an attorney who has several years of experience and who focuses their efforts on estate plans. Just as the eye doctor becomes more skilled with practice, so do estate planning attorneys. Just as the junior high basketball player does not play as well as the high school basketball player, so new attorneys are not as skilled as attorneys who have years of experience. So look for an attorney who does what you want to do, who does it a lot, and who has done it a long time.
What Sets Your Firm Apart In Handling Estate Planning And Medicaid Issues?
We have been at this a long time. I have been practicing estate planning and probate law in Oklahoma for about nineteen years at the time of this interview, and I have been doing it in the same community where I started my practice here in 1997. I have had the opportunity to serve your friends, your family, and sometimes your parents and grandparents. There is a certain comfort in knowing that I have done this work for your family and for your community for many years. If I were a fly-by-night attorney who did not know what I was doing, the word would get around.
Less visible, but perhaps equally important, is that I focus my practice heavily in estate planning and probate. I also focus my education on estate planning and probate. I attend many hours of continuing education in these areas of the law, and I even teach in these areas of the law. That gives me an advantage over a practitioner who practices many areas of the law. That attorney cannot be expected to spend the same amount of time and the same amount of money becoming an expert in estate planning when that area of the law represents only a small portion of their practice.
For more information on Basic Components Of An Estate Plan, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (405) 880-8960 today.
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