In Maine, "estate planning" broadly refers to the process through which someone decides what is to be done with their assets after death.
The first step in any estate plan is to figure out what you truly want to be done with your assets after your death. This is a very personal decision, and you should discuss it with your family, and others who might have a direct interest in your decisions. As for truly implementing your goals, you should probably speak with a legal and/or financial professional to figure out the best way to accomplish these intentions.
In addition to decisions concerning the disposition of your property, you should decide how you want to spend your final days. For example, many people have a strong preference about whether and to what extent they'd like to be kept alive by artificial means. Whatever your choice on this matter is, you should make it clear to the people who will be positioned to make such arrangements for you, if you are unable.
A knowledgeable estate planner in Maine may also help you maximize the percentage of your assets that go to your chosen beneficiaries, by minimizing the impact of taxes and court fees. Moreover, preventing a will or other estate plan from being litigated in court will save your survivors an incalculable amount of time, money, and energy - and the better an estate plan is, the lower its chances of ending up in court.
Common Elements of Estates in Maine
Estate plans in Maine almost always have these features:
Will: If you've decided who you want to leave your property and money to after you die, you should make these wishes official, by writing a will. When writing a will, it's always a good idea to have the help of an attorney, since many problems can come up which might make the will much more difficult to implement, or they might even void it entirely. Common problems include ambiguities in the terms of the will (a term which is not clearly written, so it can be interpreted differently by reasonable people), as well as failure to follow the required formalities.
Power of Attorney: Granting someone "power of attorney" gives them the authority to make your decisions for you if it becomes impossible for you to do so. This incapacity can arise due to illness, injury, or mental incapacity.
Funeral Arrangements: Obviously, deciding what you want done with your mortal remains is a very personal decision. However, once you have made this decision, you should put it in writing, in some place other than your will. You should also make your wishes known to your family members. This is because wills are often not read until days or weeks after the testator dies, by which point it may be too late to implement their wishes on this matter.
Do I Need a Maine Estate Planning Attorney?
To most people, these issues are necessary to their peace of mind during life. Accordingly, it's very important to make them with the help of a knowledgeable Maine attorney, to make sure that they have the best possible chance of being implemented.
Interesting Facts About Maine
Maine is situated on the eastern coast of the U.S., and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean. As a coastal state, Maine's laws, economy and culture are heavily influenced by coastal and maritime aspects. Maine was contained within Massachusetts before it became a separate state.
Maine's legal system is organized according to the Maine Constitution. It consists of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, the Maine Superior Court, and the District Courts. The Supreme Court is among a handful of state Supreme Courts that are authorized to issue advisory opinions. These provide information and clarification on specific issues, as requested by the legislature or by the governor. The Maine Supreme Judicial Court is somewhat atypical because it is located in Portland and not in the capital city of Augusta.
Maine is an "alcohol beverage control state" (ABC state). This means that the state of Maine exercises strict control over the retailing and wholesaling of alcoholic beverages. However, Maine is not an alcohol monopoly state, since the state does not directly run liquor establishments. Instead, the state contracts with private businesses and takes a commission on sales of alcoholic beverages in the state.
Lawyers in Maine are knowledgeable of the particular details that shape the state's laws. An experienced attorney in Maine can provide advice on legal questions and can help clients obtain legal relief. Maine lawyers are licensed by the state bar and practice law according to state standards.