Everyone has an “estate” – it’s everything the person owns, including real estate, bank accounts, retirement accounts, business interests, insurance policies, and other property and assets. Most people and couples want to have a say in how their estate (property) is inherited after their death.
Estate planning ensures property is transferred and used in the manner one wants after death. It is used to provide for spouses, partners, adult and minor children, grandchildren, friends, pets, and charities. A plan can include wills, living trusts, trusts for the benefit of minor children, and address the issue of guardianship. Health care and financial powers of attorney are created in advance so health care and financial decisions can be made when a person suffers some form of mental incapacity. Health Care Directives are used to ensure a person’s medical and end of life choices are respected.
Estate plans are not “one size fits all” and what may work for one person or a couple may not work for others. Each estate plan is as unique as the people who create it. While a website or online services may work for some estate planning needs, a well considered estate plan drafted with the help of an attorney is likely better suited to address an individual’s unique needs and circumstances.