Wills & Estate Planning

Wills & Estate Planning

As we know, everyone should have a Last Will and Testament, in order to provide instructions, including who will receive your assets, who will serve as executor, and who will care for your children. We often put this task off, but once it is done, there is a great sense of security that your wishes will be followed, and that you are not leaving loved ones to struggle with difficult decisions. Many of our clients have taken care of their Wills in advance of a trip, and one time, it was prior to bungy jumping! You will likely have great satisfaction once you make the time to put your affairs in order.

Documents to have:

1. Will – Last Will and Testament, which may include a Testamentary Trust
2. Living Will – Terminal Care Declaration
3. Power of Attorney for Health Care
4. Durable Financial Power of Attorney
5. Trust

This does not need to be a difficult or expensive process for many of us. The process includes a short questionnaire, an office or telephone meeting, drafting and revising the documents, and an office appointment with required witnesses to properly execute the documents.
Your Will does not get filed with the Court until the time of death, when it is then filed in the County Probate Court of residence. The Will can be retained in this office in our fireproof vault, with copies to you. Or you can keep the Will in a safe place, though preferably not a safe deposit box, which can require authorization from a bank representative to enter.
Medical doctors and hospitals often want copies of your Terminal Care Declaration and Power of Attorney for Health Care. The Terminal Care Declaration, previously and often called a Living Will, can be described as the “pull the plug” document. Essentially, if two independent doctors concur, then you have already instructed them to discontinue lifesaving measures. This makes sure that your family members do not have to make these decisions, and that your wishes are followed.
The Power of Attorney for Health Care allows you to name the person who will make your health care decisions for you, in case you are not able to. You can also name an alternate, and provide specific instructions.
The Financial Power of Attorney allows someone to take care of your finances, usually unlimited, though limits can be placed. This is accomplished by naming one person whom you trust and has good financial sense. (You should not name two persons, because if there is disagreement, then you have essentially made the document useless.)
A Testamentary Trust can be included in your Will, and only goes into effect upon your death. This is for the physical and financial care of the children or others, but will not occur if they have reached ages as you specify.
An Intervivos Trust is when you place your assets in trust, and establish terms for the use and distribution thereof. This is a more involved and comprehensive document and process, and thus is of greater expense. Many of us decide we do not need to undertake this process.


Many situations, with proper preparation of the above documents, will not need further services upon death. This is often referred to as avoiding probate. In other circumstances, the probating of an estate will be necessary and required. We can assist you with representation in the Probate Court or with providing advice and preparing forms.