Thanks to Matthew Reinaker from the Asurest for laying out the fundamentals of estate planning for us in this post. Just as a doula helps you achieve your goals for your birth while keeping you as comfortable as possible, Matt does the same while you are creating a plan to secure your family's future.
As new or expecting mothers, there’s a lot on your plate and a lot to learn in a short period of time. There are childbirth preparation classes, prenatal checkups, childbirth options, baby nutrition, developmental milestones . . . the sheer scope of information can be overwhelming. You may be aware of legal documents that appoint a guardian for your child if anything happens to you. Naturally, you’ll want to do whatever you can to protect your baby. But you might not know where to start or what you need, and the process of meeting a lawyer to plan your estate can seem daunting and complicated. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be. When discussing your basic needs with a lawyer to protect your child, the following are documents your plan should include:
Advance Medical Directive/Living Will/Healthcare Power of Attorney
Often used interchangeably, these documents set forth your decisions regarding health care and appoint an agent to make decisions for you if you are ever unable. Should you experience life-threatening medical complications, these documents can clarify your wishes regarding life support and other options. In addition, you can prevent significant family turmoil but making it clear whom you want making these decisions, whether it’s a spouse, partner, parent or other trusted friend.
Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney (also known as a “General Power of Attorney” or “Durable Power of Attorney”) appoints a representative to make financial decisions on your behalf. If you’re ever incapacitated and can’t pay a bill, for example, the POA allows another person do so for you. “Incapacity” as used in a POA might be for medical reasons, or simply because you’re out of the country enjoying a much needed vacation! Keep your financial affairs proceeding smoothly by creating a General Power of Attorney.
Most people are familiar with one of the main functions of a will: to dispose of your assets when you die. But there are two major additional ends a will also achieves. First, it appoints an Executor to oversee this process to make sure your property is fairly divided. Secondly, and most importantly, it appoints a guardian to care for your children. Without this provision in place, a judge will have no idea what your guardianship preferences are. Family or even friends vying for custody of your children can be a tremendously stressful process for children who are already suffering from the grief of your loss. Simplify this process for everyone and ensure your best choice for guardian is selected by stating your wishes clearly in a Will.
It might be tempting to take care of these documents on your own through a website like Legalzoom or similar online service. It’s certainly much less expensive to go this route. But keep in mind even Legalzoom’s website notes that Legalzoom does not provide legal advice, nor is it a substitute for a lawyer or law firm. Further, the site once noted that 80% of people who fill in blank forms to create legal documents do so incorrectly. EIGHTY PERCENT! So it’s best to hire a professional to make sure it’s done correctly and your wishes are followed.
Even with your new knowledge of what an estate plan should entail, the idea of getting one created for yourself can seem daunting. In the past, the only option was to take time off of work and possibly hire a babysitter, just to spend a few hours talking with an attorney who’s going to charge a few thousand dollars or more to create a plan for you. It’s certainly important, but is it worth all that hassle? Luckily, there’s another way. My law firm, Asurest, has greatly simplified the process by offering house calls to clients. A lawyer will meet you in your home or office, even in the evening, at no additional charge to help put a plan in place to protect you and your family. And because Asurest operates as a mobile law firm, it can provide this service at a much smaller fee than many of the big firms downtown.
It’s worth the investment to protect you and your family from life’s unforeseen events. Call Asurest today to start the process and give yourself one less thing to worry about.