Wills and Estate Planning: Definition and Facts

When it comes to estate planning, the conversations can be both unwelcome and difficult. However, these conversations are not only important, they are crucial to protecting your future and that of your loved ones. Our team at The Law Offices of Hoyt & Bryan will help your family establish a plan that accomplishes your goals and protects your family, including your pets.

Estate planning is a process designed to allow you to control your property while you are alive and well, plan for yourself and your loved ones in the event of your disability, and then give what you have to whom you want, when you want, the way you want. It also concerns the development of a life-long relationship with a legal professional to assist your family in the event of disability or death.

Estate planning includes understanding the relationship between how you own your assets, beneficiary designations, and the legal documents that support your plan. It also includes the proper selection and appointment of “helpers” including personal representatives, trustees, agents, guardians for minors, and caregivers for pets. Estate planning is not a one-time activity, but instead a life-long commitment that contemplates the ongoing change experienced in your life, your legacy, the law, and ultimately, your lawyer’s experience.

A comprehensive estate plan should, at a minimum, include instructions for both your possible disability as we as death. A Last Will which provides instructions for disposing of assets after death. A Will can only be enforced through a probate court. You should also include a Personal Property Memorandum to specify the items of personal property you wish to leave to your loved ones. You will also want a Durable Financial Power of Attorney, to nominate another person to act on your behalf in your absence or in the event of mental incapacity. A Power of Attorney ends at revocation, adjudication of incapacity, or death. Similarly, you should also establish a Durable Health Care Power of Attorney, a legal instrument that appoints a person to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to make them for yourself. This instrument is called a Healthcare Proxy, Healthcare Surrogate, Medical Power of Attorney, or Advance Healthcare Directive. A Living Will may also be a part of your estate plan as it sets forth your wishes regarding the termination of life-prolonging procedures if you are mentally incapacitated and your illness or injury is expected to result in your death. It is also important to include an Organ Donation Declaration and your Memorial Instructions.

For more information on Living Wills, watch this video!

Our estate planning process begins with education. You are invited to attend a complimentary educational workshop on Estate Planning, Medicaid Planning, Special Needs Planning or Pet Planning. This choice is yours. Workshops are helpful in answering questions before you meet with an attorney, but they are optional and not required. For a schedule of our available workshops, you can visit our Workshops & Events page.

If you need to do your estate planning, you are invited to meet with one of our four (4) qualified attorneys who can answer your questions. Your first in-person meeting is called the Discovery and Decision Dialogue. This meeting is approximately 90-minuting and allows you to teach us about you and your family. In return, we’ll teach you about the law and how it affects your family. Together we will explore the options to protect your family and meet your estate planning goals.

The next step is our Counselling phase, where we will work together in a Design Meeting to co-create your customized estate plan. At this meeting, we will teach you the questions you didn’t even know you needed to ask in making the important decisions to create a Will or Trust-based estate plan.

The Signing Ceremony is next. At this meeting, we will review and explain all of the legal directives that comprise your customized estate plan. You’ll sign your estate plan at this meeting, making all of your wishes effective at this time. You will take your completed estate plan home so you can review each instrument in the privacy of your own home. Any questions or changes can be addressed at any time.

To get started with your Estate Plan contact our office by emailing info@hoytbryan.com, completing this form, or by giving us a call at 407-977-8080. We look forward to hearing from you soon!