One of the kindest things you can do for your loved ones is to plan for the day you may lose mental capacity, lack the ability to express your wishes regarding your own health care, or die. Unfortunately, most people do not know where to begin. At Corley Law Firm, we work to educate our clients about the need for proper estate planning, the consequences of failing to plan and the benefits of having a comprehensive plan designed to meet your specific needs. We would be pleased to show you how easy it can be to protect yourself during your lifetime and your family after your death.
In addition, anyone who owns a home or other real estate (even a mineral interest or timeshare), is married, has a child or any beneficiary with special needs, should have either:
Estate tax (often referred to as a death tax) thresholds change but it is safe to say that no estate valued at less than $5 million will incur estate tax.
A Will can accomplish anything that a Trust can; but a Will must be probated after your death.
Many people choose to create a Trust to avoid the cost and time delay caused by probate, and to keep their affairs private; this increases the initial cost by $1,000 to $3,000 but in the end typically saves far more.
At Corley Law Firm, our goal is to provide superb professional services in a friendly and casual atmosphere. When designing the estate plan that is right for you, we consider four key essentials:
We will work with you to design an estate plan that’s right for you at a price point within your comfort zone. Your plan will include a Will in almost all circumstances, and it may include a Revocable Living Trust and/or an Irrevocable Trust. In addition, we will create the Ancillary Documents listed above and certain other coordinated documents.
Did you realize that if you marry, your spouse is automatically entitled to inherit a large chunk of your estate – whether real estate, investments or other property? This is true even if you agree between yourselves that “what’s yours will go to your children and family and what’s mine will go to my children and family.” The best way to avoid this is to sign a premarital agreement. Each of you must be represented by independent legal counsel. But we can draft an agreement per the instructions of our client, and you can review it with your intended spouse and get very close to agreement before having the second attorney review it.
Sometimes, when we create a joint trust for a married couple, we include a provision that requires the surviving spouse to sign a premarital agreement before she or he remarries. This protects the expected inheritance of the children of that marriage.
If you are already married, it is possible to sign a postnuptial agreement. But both spouses must be willing to sign.
Finally, you should be aware that Medicaid and the VA will ignore a premarital (or postnuptial) agreement; the assets of both spouses will still be counted when determining eligibility for those benefits.
If you have a child who is 18 or older, she or he is now legally an adult. That means you no longer have as much access to healthcare records or even education records. Federal privacy laws (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) with respect to medical records, and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) with respect to educational records) protect this information for your child’s privacy. Until your child marries you will likely consider yourself to be his or her primary decision maker when it comes to healthcare; your child likely does too. In order to give you full access to your adult child’s records it is recommended that she or he sign a HIPAA Authorization naming you. Likewise, if you want access to your child’s education records after she or he turns 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level, she or he needs to sign a FERPA Disclosure Consent form if not considered your dependent (whether due to scholarships or otherwise). We actually recommend that a college student sign each of the Ancillary Documents described above in addition to a FERPA Disclosure Consent form. We would be pleased to assist you with that.
Request a consultation to learn more about how each of these documents can benefit you. Experience tells us that we can assist you most efficiently, and at a lower cost, if we send you an Estate Planning Questionnaire for you to complete before our initial meeting. If you bring the fully and legibly completed Questionnaire to your initial consultation, and all decision makers attend (both spouses if married) it is free up to one hour. At that meeting, we will review your Questionnaire (and change any of your responses that you then wish to modify), show you where your property will go and the associated cost if you do nothing, analyze whether a Will or Trust works better for you, answer questions, identify issues you have yet to consider and recommend a course of action. Once we know the estate plan that’s right for you we can quote you a fixed price to create that plan; that quote will be binding for 30 days. If you choose to engage us, we document our obligations in an Engagement Agreement which provides for payment of one-half of our fee then, with the balance to be paid when the plan is ready to be signed, typically a few weeks later. We will accept a Visa or MasterCard but assess a 3% fee when doing so. We offer a “simple” estate plan at reduced cost, but the price for it does not include an initial consultation. Please request the “simple” estate planning questionnaire if you want that. If you want help with Medicaid, VA or other long-term care planning, please tell us that when you call. We hope to meet you soon!