Estate Planning FAQ’s

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Many people think that only rich people or people who are elderly need to have an estate plan in place. This is not true. All adults should consult with an estate planning attorney for guidance on what type of plans they should have in place.

Here are some frequently asked questions our estate attorneys often are asked:

What is a will?

A last will and testament is a legal document that specifies how a person wants all of their assets and property to be divided after they die. You can cancel, rewrite, or modify a will any time you wish.

What happens if I do not have a will?

You should have a will in place to ensure that your last wishes are honored. If you do not have one, the probate court will make those decisions based on what the law states, not on what your wishes may have been. Not only does a will allow you to pick the person you want overseeing your estate, you can also choose a guardian if you have any minor children.

What is a trust?

A trust transfers property or assets from the person to the control of a trustee for the benefit of a beneficiary. Many people set up trusts if they have minor children or the beneficiary is disabled. Another reason a person may set up a trust for a beneficiary is if they feel the beneficiary may not be responsible enough to handle the funds of the trust on their own, such as someone with substance abuse or gambling issues.

Since trusts avoid the probate process, the funds are usually available immediately upon the death of an individual. Certain trusts may also reduce the amount of taxes they be owed on an estate.

There are different types of trust that an estate planning attorney can discuss with you and explain the benefits of. For example, a living trust allows the person to maintain control over the assets until the day they die and can be revoked at any time. A special needs trust can ensure that an adult child with disabilities will still be provide for but will not interfere with any government assistance they receive, such as Social Security disability or Medicaid.

What is an advance medical directive?

An advance medical directive is also called a living will, although it has nothing to do with property or assets. This is a document that specifies medical directives to your physician or other healthcare professional of what treatment or measures you would approve and not approve should you become incapacitated.

What is a power of attorney?

A power of attorney is a document that authorizes another individual to oversee all financial matters should the person become incapacitated or otherwise incapable of doing so. You can also draft a healthcare power of attorney to authorize another individual to make sure that your advanced medical directives are adhered to. These can be the same individual or you can have two different people – one for your finances and the other for medical care. Work with an experienced attorney such as the estate planning attorney Scottsdale AZ locals turn to.


Thanks to authors at Hildebrand Law for insight into Estate Planning.