In our opinion, there has yet to be a Will and Powers of Attorney kit on today's market that can adequately address the many factually diverse and legally complex situations that can reasonably occur in your and your family's lives.
Regardless of whether you have a small or large estate, you need to be educated and well informed of the various mechanisms and devices that can be employed to mitigate any potential conflicts between family members/beneficiaries, reduce liabilities and tax consequences, and most importantly, alleviate worries regarding ethical/religious/medical considerations and decisions that your family members may need to make on your behalf in the event you become incapacitated and unable to make decisions for yourself. Making your wishes known and documented within a legally binding document can provide you with the peace of mind that your wishes regarding your care and property will be respected, and can alleviate the stress on your family members who may not know exactly what to do upon you becoming incapacitated or your death .
Every adult should have a properly executed will and powers of attorney. If you decide to not have a will and powers of attorney prepared for you, there can be numerable onerous consequences to your family. These consequences can include, but are not limited to, the requirement of engaging the services of a lawyer to obtain the legal authority for your family to perform certain functions and responsibilities normally done by you when you were capable, such as, banking, decisions about who will take care of your children, or filing your Income Tax returns on your behalf etc. You can avoid enormous future legal costs by having a will and powers of attorney properly prepared in advance of your failed health or death.
Perhaps worse than not having a will and/or powers of attorney, is to have an improperly executed will and/or powers of attorney from a purchased kit, or having these legal documents prepared by an inexperienced lawyer who charges minimally after only asking you a few simple questions such as: "who do you want to act as your personal representative/agent/attorney (i.e. a decision maker; not to be confused with a lawyer who practices law) in the event you become disabled or incapacitated?", "who do you want to name as your executor/administrator/trustee to administer your estate upon your passing?, or "who do you want to raise your children? If the will and powers of attorney are not properly executed or do not adequately address the varied life situations in accordance to your wishes, you essentially permit the court to interpret/determine your intentions, to trigger disposition of assets for inclusion in probate administration, or possibly deem these documents invalid and of no legal force and effect.
At our firm, clients are required to complete a questionnaire, which takes on average 1-2 hours to complete. This ensures that the necessary details required to adequately prepare a will and powers of attorney are considered prior to a meeting with a lawyer. The lawyer will then personally review your answers with you, educate you on the various instruments and legal devices available to protect your assets, and will advise you of the consequences of your decisions, while ensuring that your wishes about your care and/or division of property will be adequately documented.
POWERS OF ATTORNEY
Our firm helps draft legal documents called Powers of Attorney for Property and Personal Care that provide you and your family with the peace of mind and clarity regarding your wishes in the event you become incapacitated and unable to make decisions about your property or your healthcare. These Powers of Attorney allow you to appoint someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf in respect to your personal health and decisions about your properties and finances. For example, in the Power of Attorney for Personal Care, you may include instructions for the appointed attorney to inform any attending physicians about your medical directives/course of action to take/authorization whether to provide, withhold, and/or withdraw life sustaining procedures, or resuscitation or palliative measures in the event of a terminal or irreversible condition. As for the Power of Attorney for Property, you may limit certain powers of the attorney to deal your assets indiscriminately or discriminately. These Powers of Attorney are only effective when you are still alive but have become incapacitated (physically, mentally, or both) and they cease to be effective upon your death. Your spouse, significant other or family members are not automatically entitled to become your Attorneys upon your failed health. Having Powers of Attorney (Personal Care and Property) will save your family from dealing with the Public Guardian and Trustee who may become involved and will be entitled to charge your family a fee for their services.
WILLS and CODICILS
Our firm can draft a legal document called a will that provides you and your family peace of mind after your death. A Will allows you (as opposed to the court) to appoint someone you trust to carry out your wishes to protect your assets, to be the guardian for your minor children, and to administer your estate in accordance with your wishes. A will is effective upon your death and it sets out the parameters regarding the control of your estate and the distribution of your assets.
If you already have a will and would like to add to, varying or revoking certain provision(s) of your will, our firm can assist in drafting a legal document called a codicil. A codicil is a supplemental document and is considered as annexed to a will previously made.