If you are making arrangements in Fitchburg about what to do with everything you own after your death, and your other affairs that should be wrapped up at that time, you are in the process of "estate planning."
You will often need to seek the help of a professional with legal and/or financial expertise when in the process of estate planning. Simple mistakes in an estate plan can cause serious problems, including legal and personal conflicts between your survivors.
In addition to post-death decisions, estate planning also concerns matters 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. Moreover, effective estate planning can minimize the impact that estate taxes and court fees will have on your final disposition to your loved ones.
If you want to maximize the odds that your wishes will be followed after your death, you should do everything you can to make them legally binding. While this is not always possible, a Fitchburg attorney will be able to make sure that, where it is possible, it is done.
Common Features of Fitchburg Estates
Will: This is a legal document which transfers ownership of the testator's (the person making the will) property to named beneficiaries after the testator's death. The beneficiaries can be just about anyone the testator chooses, but smaller estates, usually only include family members, and maybe very close friends. If you want, you can place conditions on gifts (say, leaving a certain amount of money to your son, but only if he graduates college before he turns 25 - this is just an example). However, a will can't actually compel anyone to do anything, and some conditional gifts won't be enforced, normally because they involve an illegal act, or require a person to marry or refrain from marrying a particular person.
Living Will: This is a document which lays out instructions for your medical care, should you become so sick or badly hurt that you are unable to express your wishes. It should state under what cases you want to remain on life support. A well-drafted living will can prevent you from being kept alive in a permanent vegetative state (if that is not what you want), while ensuring that you receive medical care as long as you have a chance at recovery.
Power of Attorney: Power of attorney is the authority to make binding decisions for another person, when that person becomes unable to make or express their own decisions. You can grant power of attorney to anyone you want, but, for obvious reasons, you should only grant it to somebody you trust, and discuss your exact wishes with them, in case they actually have to make a decision for you.
Funeral Arrangements: If you have any strong preferences regarding the disposition of your physical remains, you should make them known to your family early, and should not include funeral instructions in your will. Wills are frequently read weeks after the testator dies, so in most cases, it will be too late by then.
Do I Need a Fitchburg Estates Lawyer?
A poorly drafted or executed Fitchburg estate plan can have major negative consequences. For example, it might be confusing to the people who are most directly affected by it. This confusion can frequently lead to costly litigation. For that reason, the assistance of an efficient estate planning attorney can be invaluable.