No person should be without a will. They are simple to draft and easy to follow if done right. However, there are many technical requirements that any will or estate planning document must have which is why it is important that a trained attorney do it right. These requirements vary from state to state and, in some cases, from county to county.
Here at The Norton Firm, we offer a simple wills package which consists of three vital documents:
- A Durable Power of Attorney;
- An Advance Medical Directive; and
- A Simple Will.
Durable Power of Attorney
A Durable Power of Attorney assigns a person of your choice to make decisions on your behalf. Such a document is vital in the instance that you ever are incapacitated or otherwise unable to make important decisions regarding your own affairs. You may (and should) designate a backup designee to serve in your interests as well. Don’t wait until something happens to make these decisions – with one simple document you can rest assured that you are covered.
Advance Medical Directive
Much like a Durable Power of Attorney, an Advance Medical Directive serves to designate someone to make important healthcare related decisions on your behalf in the event that you aren’t able to make those decisions yourself. This is particularly important in the event that
A Simple Will
Many folks are hesitant to execute a will for a number of good, if not unfounded reasons, including that they are too complicated. In truth, a simple will is neither complicated nor technical if drafted correctly. A good will leaves no asset uncovered and attempts to avoid unnecessary taxation and costs for the beneficiaries.
At The Norton Firm, we will conduct a thorough consultation with you, ask you to fill out a few simple forms and then begin the process of drafting these three documents at one flat rate. We will go over the drafts with you and give you a set amount of time to make sure that everything meets with your satisfaction and that all questions are answered. After that, we will meet to execute the forms before a notary and you will leave with all three original documents in your possession. We highly urge that you keep them somewhere safe such as a safe deposit box.
If done correctly the first time, your estate will pass smoothly to your intended beneficiaries without unnecessary lengthy probate or contests to the will.
For many a simple will is not sufficient to adequately take care of the disposition of their estates. Wills must go through probate which means a public, lengthy and, at times, costly process in which all of the assets in the estate are inventoried for the court, taxed and eventually distributed. Additionally, it can be difficult to distribute your assets through a simple will when you have a blended family. Trusts allow you to custom-tailor the distribution of your assets so that assets may be distributed in varying percentages or dependent upon certain conditions. For instance, many place their assets in trust to be distributed to their surviving spouse for health, maintenance, education and support (“HEMS”). Following the death of the surviving spouse, the remainder of the trust assets may be distributed in stages to the children upon reaching a certain age (i.e., 1/3rd at age 21, 1/3rd at age 25 and the remaining 1/3rd at age 30, etc.) or upon satisfying a certain condition (i.e., graduation or marriage).
Revocable vs. Irrevocable Trusts
A revocable trust is a trust in which the grantor could, conceivably, revoke the trust and take back the trust assets. Generally speaking, a revocable trust is vulnerable to the grantor’s creditors because they still retain absolute control over the trust property.
An irrevocable trust is a trust which may not be revoked by the grantor. Because neither the grantor, nor the beneficiaries or trustee can claim the trust assets outright, an irrevocable trust is generally not vulnerable to creditors. However, when a distribution is made to a beneficiary that distribution is no longer protected and will be subject to a creditor’s claim. Testamentary trusts (trusts which spring into creation upon the grantor’s demise) are irrevocable.