Estate planning involves the process of ensuring a client’s financial well-being by making certain that his or her estate is properly managed and preserved. It is also important to ensure that each client and his or her beneficiaries are protected according to the client’s intentions. Planning for death is only one aspect of estate planning, as preparing for the possibility of a client’s subsequent mental or physical disability, or both, is equally important.
The complexity of an estate plan for a particular client depends on a number of variables, including the nature and extent of the client’s assets, the client’s personal and family background, the intended beneficiaries and their different needs, and the needs and objectives of the client.
John Morrissey has advised and assisted numerous clients with their estate planning since he began his legal career in 1993. This has included the preparation of Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney, Health Care Surrogate Designations, Mercy Wills, and other more sophisticated estate planning documents.
Information is the key to a good estate plan. Basic questions that an individual should consider as part of the estate planning process include the following:
- What are the nature and extent of my assets?
- How is each asset titled?
- What are the implications of holding jointly owned property?
- How do I want my assets to be distributed?
- Who are my intended beneficiaries?
- Does any beneficiary have special needs?
- What do I hope to accomplish for each beneficiary?
- What debts do I owe?
- Who are my potential creditors?
- Do I need a Power of Attorney and, if so, who do I appoint as my Attorney In Fact if I am unable to make decisions?
- Do I need a Trust and, if so, who do I appoint as my Trustee if I die or am unable to make decisions?
- Who do I appoint to make my health care decisions if I am unable to do so?
- Who do I want to act as my Guardian if I am unable to make decisions?
- If I have minor children or family members with special needs, who do I name as their Guardian or other fiduciary to look out for them?
- Who do I appoint as the Personal Representative of my estate?
- What if I become disabled, either temporarily or for an extended period of time?
- Should I consider gifting assets during my lifetime?