In Bellingham, "estate planning" refers to all of the decisions affecting how a person's property is going to be disposed of after their death, as well as the procedure of implementing those decisions when the time comes.
The problems that estate planning raises are sometimes very difficult. Without competent legal and financial advice, many problems can pop up, which can quickly throw your entire plan into disarray, and cost your survivors a great deal of time, energy, and money.
In addition to post-death decisions, estate planning also concerns issues that might affect you during your life, such as granting power of attorney to a family member or trusted friend in case you become unable to make your own decisions regarding your finances or medical care. Additionally, effective estate planning can minimize the impact that estate taxes and court fees will have on your final disposition to your loved ones.
A qualified estate planner in Bellingham can make the procedure of planning your estate go much more smoothly, and maximize the chances of your wishes really being carried out with legal force.
Common Features of Bellingham Estates
Will: Wills are a very important part of almost all estate plans. In simplest terms, it answers the question "who gets what after I die?" Typically, you can leave your property to anyone you wish. If you die without a will, your property will usually be given to your closest living relative (usually a spouse or child).
Living Will: This is a document which articulates your wishes regarding your medical care, to give instructions to your family and doctors in the event that you become incapacitated. While really consulting it will hopefully never be necessary, one never knows - unexpected illnesses and injuries can happen to anyone, at any time. While making a living will might require a person to acknowledge the existence of some unpleasant possibilities, it can end up saving their loved ones a great deal of grief and uncertainty.
Power of Attorney: This is an arrangement in which you give someone else, normally a trusted family member, the authority to make financial and medical decisions on your behalf, in case you become unable to make or express your own decisions.
Funeral Arrangements: Whatever your preference on this matter (if you have a preference) you should make it known to your family both verbally and in writing. If you have very particular wishes regarding the final disposition of your mortal remains, you should not put those instructions in your will. Or, if you do, you should also put them somewhere else. Wills are usually not read for quite some time after a person dies, and the funeral is normally long over by then, so it will be too late to follow your instructions.
Do I Need a Bellingham Estates Lawyer?
A poorly drafted or executed Bellingham estate plan can have major negative consequences. For instance, it might be confusing to the people who are most directly affected by it. This confusion can commonly lead to costly litigation. For that reason, the advice of an accomplished estate planning attorney can be invaluable.