Wills & WishEs™
Plan today for what may come tomorrow
Most frequent questions and answers
Wills are used to make your wishes known and enforceable. You can select who you want to handle your final matters, name guardians for your children, spell out specific items or amounts to be given to individuals or charities, and provide funeral and burial instructions. Without a will, your family could face unnecessary difficulty, expense and turmoil. Your assets and even children will be subject to the state laws and rules in place, and the results may not be what you might imagine or prefer.
Ever heard of the phrase garbage in, garbage out? Those programs are not set up to provide a comprehensive explanation of your options or question what information you provide. The plans claim to be complete, but often fail to include or address critically important concerns. Also, if not properly executed the documents are legally insufficient and may be rejected by a Court or entity when you need them most.
The cost is based upon the complexity of the plan and the value that it provides. You will have the option to select the plan you desire once I have had the opportunity to discover your individual needs and wishes. Online packages for $100 or firms that charge $500 flat fees for family “complete” plans have an approach that emphasizes efficiency and quantity of plans. At that price point you may receive a “one size fits most” plan, you will not receive a great deal of individualized attention. Also, any changes that you need to make down the road will likely incur a cost close to that of a new plan. My plans cost about what you would expect to pay for a quality appliance. If you would pay it to ensure your food stays cold, I would encourage you to invest at least as much in your family’s future security and happiness. My question for you: “What will an inexpensive plan cost you in the long run?”
I frequently see situations where individuals have made efforts to eliminate the need for a will or probate by quit claiming or gifting property or adding a loved one to a bank account. Unfortunately, these actions often result in unintended consequences ranging from tax problems to seizure/forfeiture of assets. Also, by failing to consult with a knowledgeable attorney, these individuals miss opportunities to obtain other vital documents such as healthcare directives or a durable power of attorney.
It might be. The problem is that depending on when the need arises, your children may not be with an individual who knows the plan. The authorities may not be able to release the child to your intended caregiver without legal authority. Once the matter proceeds to Court, the process is more complex without a will and the Court may select a guardian that you did not desire. Your family may disagree and cause additional expense and discord.
I believe everyone should have at least a basic plan. Here are some examples:
a. Regardless of what your finances look like, you have a body and some level of healthcare needs. At some point, difficult decisions may need to be made and it is a very loving gift to your family to make those decisions for yourself ahead of time. If you have no family, then you should consider your own bodily integrity and dignity. A directive allows your wishes to be known and honored when you can no longer speak for yourself.
b. If you have a child, you should have a plan to ensure they are properly cared for when you are unable or unavailable to care for them due to disability or death.
c. If you have any concern or special wishes regarding how your money and
property is divided.
If you have experienced a change since you originally made the plan, you should at least have it reviewed. Have you moved from another state? Has your family changed? Do you want to make a change to some part of your plan? Is there an obvious error like lack of notary or witness signatures? You should never write on old documents. Generally speaking, marking out and adding to is a recipe for failure when it comes to enforceability. One of my favorite things to do is to ensure a plan grows with you. If you plan with me, I can often build upon the previous plan we design without starting from scratch and charging for a totally new plan.
Generally speaking, when referring to a document as a Power of Attorney that is a document that gives another person the authority to take actions in place of you regarding your finances and property. Sometimes a Power of Attorney also refers to a document that gives another person (or entity) the authority to have custody/control over your minor child. Medical or Healthcare Directive is generally a dual-purpose document that serves as a Medical Directive on certain issues when your health has reached a dire state and may also be referred to as a “Living Will.” The Living Will portion is a Medical Directive on certain issues that directs healthcare workers regarding the level of treatment and care you wish to receive under a clearly defined set of circumstances. Within the same document, you also designate a person to make healthcare decisions, sign documents, receive medical records, etc. when you are unable to do so.
A Living Trust is a revocable trust, which essentially functions as a legal basket that you transfer all of your assets into and manage during your lifetime. Once you are unable to manage the trust, due to disability/incapacity or death, or if you desire to no longer manage it, it is then managed by a trusted individual or professional entity. If used properly, revocable “Living” trusts have many benefits including a greater degree of privacy, and may also avoid complex probate or other court involvement. A Living Trust does not provide a means of escaping income tax, although there can be some tax benefits. In Idaho, transferring property to a living trust will not remove it from your estate for purposes of Medicaid planning.
Creating the entity on the Secretary of State website is very much like setting up a cardboard cutout of a house. It may look like a house on the outside, from a distance, but it does not function like one and offers no real shelter. To avoid costly problems and potential liability, you should obtain sound legal advice regarding how certain actions such as adding members or managing the company should be handled. You also need documents including a functional Operating Agreement, Minutes, etc.
I am your “Wills & Wishes”™ attorney, but what does that mean?
I use the phrase “Wills & Wishes”™ because I think it is a more accurate description of the service I provide. I don’t really like the term “estate planning” because it sounds like it’s only for those with a great amount of property or wealth, which can be misleading to some individuals and some families.
What “Wills & Wishes”™ is really all about is creating a plan that puts essential legal documents in place to fulfill your individual wishes and safeguard your unique family – come what may.
With an effective plan, you can determine who will benefit from your assets, motivate accomplishments, and communicate your desires for your healthcare and body. You can provide a safe harbor for your children should anything happen to you, so that they are loved and protected by individuals that you know and trust. Without a plan, your family could face unnecessary difficulty, expense and turmoil. Your assets, healthcare, body and children will all be subject to the state laws and rules in place, and the results may be unpleasant at best.