What is Estate Planning

Estate planning is generally considered the process by which an individual arranges the transfer of assets upon death.  Emphasis is on whether to create a Will or avoid probate through a trust or beneficiary designations. While post death planning is primary, an effective estate plan will also include a power of attorney to ensure uninterrupted property and financial management and a health care directive to provide health care decision making and end of life instruction. 

Ultimately, an estate plan must clearly reflect the individual’s wishes and concerns.  At Hartley Law Office, Client intentions are learned through casual conversation rather than multi paged intake forms and questionnaires.  Once prepared, each component of the estate plan is reviewed in detail using plain English; thereby ensuring a working knowledge of the entire estate plan.       

Click on the links below for further estate planning information or contact Hartley Law Office to schedule a free initial consultation.

Revocable Trust
Family Cabin Planning
Last Will & Testament
Power Of Attorney
Health Care Directive
Transfer On Death Dead
Multi Party Accounts

Estate Planning

Basic Wills: A will is a vital and intricate document that outlines your specific desires in detail. It is crucial to update your will throughout the year to reflect significant life changes. This document establishes your posthumous wishes regarding personal belongings, financial assets, and how you want them to be distributed among your family and loved ones.

Living Wills: Life is unpredictable, and in situations where you are unable to make decisions for yourself due to a coma or vegetative state, a living will becomes essential. This legal document articulates your desires in such circumstances. To ensure its validity and authenticity, it is important to seek the assistance of an attorney when drafting a living will. This ensures that your wishes are accurately represented and followed.

Trusts: Trusts serve a similar purpose to wills, allowing for the transfer of assets and property to beneficiaries upon your death. However, trusts differ from wills in several ways. They are more likely to avoid probate, which can streamline the distribution process. Trusts can also provide protection for government benefits, such as disability benefits. Additionally, trusts may help in minimizing estate taxes or death taxes.

At Hartley Law Office, our experienced team can guide you through the complexities of estate planning, helping you make informed decisions and establishing a secure foundation for your future. We prioritize your peace of mind by offering tailored solutions that align with your unique circumstances and goals. With our expertise in estate planning, we strive to provide you and your loved ones with the utmost protection and clarity when it matters most.

At Hartley Law Office, we emphasize the importance of estate planning and encourage early action. Here are several key reasons why creating an estate plan is a wise decision:

  1. Peace of Mind: One of the primary reasons for estate planning is to provide peace of mind to yourself and your loved ones, knowing that your affairs are well-organized and taken care of in advance.

  2. Asset Distribution: By specifying in your will who should receive which assets after your passing, you can prevent conflicts and hurt feelings among family members, ensuring a smooth transfer of assets.

  3. Avoiding Probate Headaches: Estate planning helps to avoid the complexities of probate court. Without a will or trust, the court system oversees the distribution of your assets, resulting in time-consuming and potentially costly probate proceedings.

  4. Appointing a Guardian for Minor Children: If you have minor children, it is essential to designate a guardian who will take care of them in the event of your death. Estate planning allows you to make this critical decision.

  5. Naming an Executor: Selecting an executor is another vital decision. The executor is responsible for ensuring that the terms of your estate plan are carried out, making it crucial to choose a trustworthy and capable individual.

  6. Establishing a Power of Attorney: It is essential to establish a power of attorney for both financial and healthcare decisions. These legal documents designate someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.

  7. Restricting Minor Children’s Access to Inheritance: Estate planning allows you to set restrictions on when your children can access their inheritance, protecting their financial well-being until they reach a responsible age, typically around 25-30 years old.

  8. Shielding Inheritance from Tax, Divorce, and Creditors: Through the use of trusts, you can protect your assets from potential tax concerns, divorce proceedings, and creditors, ensuring that your hard-earned wealth remains safeguarded.

The Consequences of Not Having an Estate Plan: Failure to establish an estate plan can have significant consequences. Without appointed representatives, the state will intervene, leading to intestacy rules and probate proceedings that may not align with your wishes. In the event of incapacity, a judge will decide on matters concerning your care and assets, resulting in costly guardianship and conservatorship processes. By having a comprehensive estate plan in place, including a living trust and power of attorney, you can ensure that your desires are known, executed efficiently, and alleviate the burden on your family during difficult times.

At Hartley Law Office, our experienced team is dedicated to guiding you through the estate planning process, tailoring solutions to meet your specific needs. We prioritize your peace of mind and the protection of your assets, working closely with you to create a comprehensive plan that safeguards your legacy and ensures your wishes are honored.