Estate Planning2022-01-19T18:50:36-05:00

Estate Planning

Don’t be a burden to your family…make a plan!

Failing to execute important preneed documents could cause your family to hire an attorney, involve the courts, incur lots of fees and expenses, long delays, and unnecessary stress when something happens to you!

6 Reasons to do Estate Planning:

  1. Avoid court, attorneys, and the associated costs and delays
  2. Give someone else the ability to make my health care decisions if you can’t
  3. Give someone else the ability to make financial and personal decisions if you can’t
  4. Name guardians for your minor children
  5. Name who gets your assets, and when they get them
  6. Make sure you are not kept on life support unnecessarily, which could financially ruin your family


The 5 Standard Estate Planning Documents

  1. Last Will and Testament (Will)
  2. Revocable Trust (Living Trust)
  3. Designation of Health Care Surrogate (DOHCS)
  4. Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA)
  5. Living Will

For most people, a basic estate plan would include 5 documents: a will; a revocable living trust; a living will; a designation of health care surrogate; and, a durable power of attorney. Each of these documents gives power and authority to another person to make health care or financial decisions for you. Typically, when you are unable to make those decisions for yourself. While most estate plans involve the 5 documents, everyone’s situation is different. Depending on the client’s situation, different provisions, different documents, or additional documents may be recommended or required. These are also not the only documents associated with estate planning.

Hopefully you won’t need most of the documents that are recommended in an estate plan. But if you don’t have them and need them, that failure to plan could have devastating consequences.

Your College Student Needs a DOHCS

When your child turns 18, they become a legal adult. Which also means, mom and dad can no longer make medical decisions for them without their permission. They also can’t make financial decisions. Before your child leaves for college, at a minimum, make sure you have them execute a designation of health care surrogate so you can make health care decisions for them if they are involved in an accident and are unable to communicate.

I Can’t Make Healthcare Decisions for My Spouse?

For most people, estate planning is for the old. Unfortunately, that belief results in a lot of ill-prepared people. As soon as we turn 18 years of age, NO ONE can make decisions for us without our consent or a court order. That means your 18 year old son, 45 year old husband, or 80 year old mother must give you written consent to make these decisions while they are still capable and competent to give their permission. When these documents are really needed, it will usually be too late to get them done because the person needing to execute them is usually incapacitated. Without these documents, you must seek an emergency order from the courts granting you authority to make health care and/or financial decisions for them. Often resulting in delays and significant costs.

Why Should I Use an Estate Planning Attorney

  1. It’s not about the documents… it’s the consultation and advice!
  2. We prepare and file everything to make sure it gets done!
  3. Because you’re not going to read the instructions that are given to you!
  4. Because you are not going to remember which documents do what!
  5. We are here for you when you have questions.

Estate planning is not usually complicated. However, complicated family situations can add to the difficulty and complexity of the estate plan. The real value of using an estate planning attorney is far more than the document preparation. Its understanding your clients, their situations, and their needs. It’s explaining everything to them to make sure they understand. And it’s taking care of everything for them to make sure everything is properly taken care of, recorded, or filed. After all, having the wrong documents prepared, not funding a trust you set up, or not properly distributing the estate planning documents, can be as bad as having no documents at all.

The value of using an attorney isn’t the documents. Most estate planning documents originate from templates, so most estate planning documents are very similar. Regardless of who prepares them. However, it’s important to understand when special circumstances exist and changes to the standard documents are needed. Additionally, most people that have estate planning documents prepared, don’t know what each document is for, who to give them to, or what to do with them. Those documents become useless if nobody knows you have them, or nobody can find them. At Dowd Law, we make sure our clients know what each document is, who should get copies of which documents, where the documents should be kept, and we make sure any revocable trust gets properly funded.

The Cost

Most estate planning attorneys charge a flat fee for the consultation, preparation and signing of the estate planning documents. A typical flat fee will range from $1,000 to $3,000. There is no annual fee to keep or maintain estate planning documents. If you create a revocable trust, you will likely incur additional fees associated with properly transferring property into the trust. That cost could range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars. However, if you have so much money that you have a potential estate tax issue, or you have a child with special needs, you may need an estate attorney that focuses on tax shelters or special needs trusts. In those cases, the costs will usually be much higher. Dowd Law does not handle estates that need estate tax planning or special needs trusts.

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