The Serafini Smith Law Firm is your partner in estate planning.
Executing estate planning documents will preserve your wishes upon your death and save your family unnecessary stress and expense after you die.
There are several recommended estate planning documents:
- Last Will and Testament. Your will disposes of your property upon your death after admitting your will is admitted into probate. A will must be valid in order to be effective. There are several steps required to have a valid will. Your will should name at least one executor and preferably at least one alternate.
- Medical Power of Attorney. A medical power of attorney allows for your named agent to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so.
- HIPAA Release. It is extremely likely that medical professionals may refuse to consult with your family or even release information to them if you are incapacitated to give consent. In order to alleviate any possible issue, a HIPAA Release will allow anyone listed on the document to talk to your doctors or caregivers, and receive medical information and test results.
- Statutory Durable Power of Attorney. A statutory durable power of attorney allows your named agent the ability to act on your behalf for a list of powers, such as banking, real estate transactions, tax matters, litigation, etc.
- Appointment of Guardian for Minor Children. This document tells the court who you want to be the guardian for your minor children in the event of your incapacity or death. Two types of guardians are needed: guardian of the person and guardian of the estate.
- Appointment of Guardian in the Event the Need Arises. The document tells the court who you want named as your guardian in the event you are unable to care for yourself or your finances.
Executor of the Will
The executor carries out the terms of the will and sees the estate settlement process through to completion. The executor should have financial savvy and patience, because that person will be responsible for collecting the deceased’s assets, paying bills, submitting tax returns, submitting and petitioning for court documents, and distributing the assets to beneficiaries on behalf of the estate. It is highly advised that the executor hire an attorney who practices in the area of probate law.
You may appoint more than one executor, if you know two people who have skill sets and personalities that make them good candidates for the role together, as co-executors. You may also wish to appoint a professional, such as a lawyer, accountant, bank, or trust company, as executor or co-executor.