Estate planning involves using elder law professionals to evaluate your life goals, your assets, your family, and how you’d want them distributed. It usually involves some coordination between your attorney, your financial planner or accountant, and even bankers.
A typical estate plan includes:
- Power of Attorney
- Living Will, Health Care Proxy, or Advance Directive
As there is a lot to an estate plan, it can raise some questions. Here are some of the most common estate planning FAQs.
Does Your Mom Really Need a Will?
One of the most common questions is if a will is necessary. Your mom doesn’t have a lot of money, so would she need a will? It depends on what she has for personal assets, and if there are people she wouldn’t want to inherit them.
A will is the best line of defense against claims from people your mom may not want to get any of her personal property and assets. She wants to make sure her estranged sister doesn’t get her wedding ring instead of her niece, but she knows her sister wants it. That’s a good item to put in a will.
Suppose your mom and dad were separated when she died. If she died without a will, your dad would be the beneficiary as her spouse. That’s why a will is important.
Why is a Power of Attorney Important?
A power of attorney, both medical and financial, is a legal decision where your mom chooses an “agent” to act on her behalf if needed. If your mom had a stroke and couldn’t speak for herself, her agent could make medical and financial decisions for her until she’s able again.
A durable power of attorney is in place for the rest of your mom’s life. This is most common, but in the past, states required a power of attorney to get renewed. If your mom wants the durable power of attorney to be in place, she needs to verify that’s what her elder law specialist is drafting.
What Happens if You Need to Change Your Estate Plan?
To change the components of an estate plan, your mom would talk to her attorney. New legal forms would be drawn up and the old ones would be invalidated.
Can’t You Just Use the Free Online Legal Forms You Find?
This is one of the most important questions people ask. It’s normal to want to save money on estate planning documents. With so many free online legal forms, you might think it’s just easier to do it yourself. Tread carefully.
Not every state allows DIY legal forms for everything. If your mom drafts her estate plans on online forms, you could find a court declaring they’re not valid. At that point, your mom’s wishes may not be heard. It’s always best to ensure estate planning is legal and that the paperwork cannot be contested.
Talk to an elder law specialist about your mom’s assets and wishes. She’ll get more information on how much it will cost to draft all of the legal paperwork and follow through to establish an iron-clad estate plan.