In Rhode Island, "estate planning" broadly refers to the process through which someone determines 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 regarding the disposition of your property, you should decide how you want to spend your final days. For instance, many people have a strong preference about whether and to what extent they'd like to be kept alive by artificial means. Whatever your preference 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 Rhode Island 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 Rhode Island
Estate plans in Rhode Island almost always have these elements:
Will: A will is a written instrument stating what you want to be done with your assets after you die. There are many problems that can come up in the drafting of a will. Nonetheless, because the will doesn't have any legal or practical effect until after the person who made it died, they can't exactly correct these problems when they become apparent. Thus, quality drafting, usually with the assistance of a reliable attorney, is essential.
Power of Attorney: Granting someone "power of attorney" gives them the permission 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: The judgment of what should be done with your body after you die is a very personal one. If you have a preference on this, for religious, or other, reasons, you should discuss this with a family member in advance. You should additionally put your wishes in writing, but you should not put it ONLY in a will; wills aren't always read immediately after the person who wrote it died. Sometimes, weeks, or even months, go by before the will is read. Obviously, by then it will almost definitely be too late to implement your wishes.
Do I Need a Rhode Island Estate Planning Attorney?
Estate planning is very important (if you care about what happens to your family after your death), and can involve some pretty challenging decisions. It should be clear, then, that a reliable Rhode Island estate planning attorney will likely be worth the cost, because they can give your wishes the best possible chance of taking effect.
Interesting Facts About Rhode Island
Rhode Island is situated along the eastern portions of the United States. It has the second highest population density of all U.S. states, although it has the smallest total area. There are no county governments in the state, as Rhode Island is divided into municipalities which oversee government matters for the state's 39 towns and cities.
As one of the older U.S. states, Rhode Island played a major part in the development of early American laws and government structure. Today it is often at the forefront of legal and legislative trends. For example, Rhode Island was the second U.S. state to abolish capital punishment. Out of the 50 states, Rhode Island has one of the most complex body of tax laws.
Rhode Island's highest court divisions are the Supreme Court of Rhode Island and the Superior Court. Below these levels, Rhode Island operates District Courts and Municipal Courts. Rhode Island's judiciary is distinct in that it also has a separate Worker's Compensation Court. Many landmark cases have been heard at Rhode Island's Supreme Court. An important Rhode Island case is Picard v. Barry Pontiac-Buick, Inc. (1995, often cited in law schools as the standard example of battery.
Lawyers in Rhode Island practice law according to strict professional standards and guidelines. This helps to boost the degree of professionalism for Rhode Island lawyers. Continuing Legal Education Programs help attorneys in Rhode Island sharpen their legal skills.