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Estate Planning

Planning your last will and testament

Planning for your old age and the end of your life can involve some complex financial and legal issues, depending on the extent of your estate planning needs. Arranging your last will and testament typically involves many different professionals, including not only your lawyer, but also your financial planner and/or accountant and insurance advisor.

Wills and trusts arrange for the dispersion of your assets and property after you pass away (and, in some cases, before you pass away). Legal wills address not only your finances, but also your last wishes and burial preferences. Estate planning can also include living wills, which provide directives in the event that you become incapacitated and/or legally incapable of making important personal or financial decisions prior to your death (as a result of invasive medical treatment, illness or an accident).

Wills and Trusts: Terms You Should Know

You have many estate planning options available to you, all of which are worth considering and have their own distinct advantages. Some of the terms you're likely to encounter include:

  • Beneficiary. A beneficiary is any party to whom you are leaving assets or property.
  • Executor. The executor of your estate is named in your will, and this person is legally responsible for the administration of your will to the best of his or her ability.
  • Power of attorney. A power of attorney agreement can take many different forms, but generally speaking, it is designed to authorize another party to make important financial and personal decisions on your behalf.
  • Probate. Regardless of whether or not the deceased person had a will, the court-supervised distribution of his or her property is a process is known as probate.
  • Trusts. Sometimes, it makes sense to leave property intended for a beneficiary under the care of a third party until such time as the beneficiary is able to claim it. These arrangements are called trusts.
  • Will. A will is a legally binding written document in which a person specifies how and to whom they want their property divided upon their death.

How Lawyers Help with Estate and Trust Planning

Lawyers are specially trained to translate your final wishes into legally binding language that is free of ambiguity. Getting a lawyer's help with your estate planning ensures that your property will be dispersed exactly as you want, and will make it impossible for anyone to alter or misinterpret your instructions.

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