Ed. Note: The following is the text of an interview that was conducted by a media source and we thought the answers might be helpful to some doing research about Estate Planning and our office. Please contact us directly for more information.
What does an estate planning lawyer do?
As an estate planning attorney, I help people protect their families and loved ones from trouble at death or incapacity. For young families, this means making sure the children end up with the people best suited to pass on family values and time-honored principles. It also means making sure any assets left over (life insurance, retirement plans, cash, homes) will be well managed and available for their children once they are grown and not wasted before they are mature enough. For older couples, this means making sure the legacy they have built up isn’t encumbered by probate or fights among heirs. It also means making sure that, in the event of incapacity, the right people are making financial and health care decisions for them.
What does the average estate plan include?
At Seiter Law, each estate plan is tailored to meet the specific needs of each client. Most estate plans include a means for transferring assets at death such as a will or trust. An estate plan also can include such things as powers of attorney, healthcare directives (including a “living will”) and burial/cremation instructions. For young families, it also includes nominations of guardians for their minor children.
What happens if there is no will or trust documents? If someone dies without a will or trust, the estate will almost always go through a formal probate, which requires money in court costs and attorney fees plus much more time and stress for those left behind! Also, because the person who died failed to make their wishes known, the court has to apply arbitrary guidelines for deciding who gets what, which has a high likelihood of not matching the true wishes of either the person who died or those left behind.
In what cases is required a power of attorney? When someone is unable to make their own financial decisions, they are considered incapacitated. This situation not only happens to seniors, but it can happen to younger people due to injury or sudden illness. In this case, if that person had already signed a power of attorney, the person they nominated in the power of attorney can act on their behalf to pay bills, deposit checks, etc.
Which documents do you do most often in your office?
Seiter Law is focused on preparing full estate plans for its clients. So unless a client is looking for a very specific document to supplement an already-prepared estate plan, Seiter Law helps clients cover the full range of their estate planning needs – wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and Peace of Mind!
When does the Health Care Power of Attorney go into effect and how long is it effective? How is it revoked?
A health care power of attorney becomes effective as soon as someone has a medical needs but is unable to communicate their own decisions. If someone wants to revoke a power of attorney (medical or financial) they can either communicate that wish to the person named on the document as their agent (or attorney-in-fact) or the person(s) such as a doctor, bank or hospital relying on the power of attorney. While this communication can be oral or in writing, such revocation is usually best done in writing and a copy should be given to anyone acting or relying on the old power of attorney.
What other services are available in your office?
Seiter Law also prepares real estate deeds and LLC formation documents for clients as needed to complete a comprehensive estate plan for clients.
Marcus N. Seiter
Attorney at Law