Wainwright Law Office, PC offers a range of estate planning and administration services to its clients to assist them and their families during their lives and after their deaths. We work with our clients to evaluate their needs and provide a solution that is best suited for their particular situation at a reasonable price. Some examples of our services include:
- Drafting of Health Care Proxy, Durable Power of Attorney, Living Will
- Drafting of Last Will and Testament
- Probate of Wills and Administration of Estates
The Health Care Proxy is an appointment of a Health Care Agent to act for you regarding health care decisions in the event that you lack the capacity to make those decisions yourself. This document names your agent, as well as alternate agents if the primary agent is unable to act, and gives your agent the full authority to make any and all health care decisions for you, including decisions about life-sustaining treatment.
The Living Will is a directive to your Health Care Agent indicating your wishes to be allowed to die and not be kept alive by artificial means, i.e. medications, breathing machines, “heroic measures” such as CPR, if it is determined that there is no reasonable expectation of your recovery. This document is not necessarily acted upon by medical personnel, but is a representation of your intentions as to how your Health Care Agent is to act for you if you cannot.
The Durable Power of Attorney is an appointment of an Attorney In Fact to act in your place regarding financial decisions in the event that you lack the capacity to make those decisions yourself. This document names your attorney in fact, as well as alternates if the primary person is unable to act, and gives them the authority to do any financial act you could do yourself such as withdraw funds, pay bills, sign checks, and execute deeds or mortgages. This document can be drafted as a “springing” document, in that it does not come into effect until it has been determined through medical certification that you lack the capacity to act, or as an “immediate” document where your attorney in fact would have authority to act immediately. It is also “durable” in that it is not affected by your subsequent incapacity, but is void upon your death.
The Last Will and Testament document controls the distribution of any assets held individually or without a specific beneficiary designation at the time of your death. It does not, therefore, control assets such as real estate held jointly or life insurance with a spouse or child designated as beneficiary. This document also does not provide protection from nursing homes or estate tax planning. Through this document you can name who is to be the primary beneficiary of your estate assets, including any specific bequests or items or monetary gifts; who you is to be the Trustee of your minor child/children’s assets; who you would nominate as Guardian of your minor child/children if both parents are deceased or the surviving parent cannot act; and who is to be the Personal Representative (formerly known as Executor) of your estate, to handle the administration of the estate.
Probate of Wills and
Administration of Estates
When someone dies, the property that he or she owns individually usually cannot be transferred without the estate going through a court process called probate. If property is owned jointly (with right of survivorship) with another person, then the property would transfer to that other person directly. If there is a beneficiary named on an account such as life insurance or retirement account, then the property would transfer to that beneficiary directly. However any assets which do not have a beneficiary, or survivor or joint owner named would need to go through probate.
If a person dies with a Will, then he or she dies Testate and the language in the Will controls once the Will is allowed by the court. If a person dies without a Will, then he or she dies Intestate, and the laws of Intestacy control. The role of the Personal Representative (formerly known as Executor) of the estate is to gather and secure the assets of the estate, determine any outstanding liabilities or bills owed by the estate, work with the attorney to file the proper paperwork with the court to get appointed by the court, pay any outstanding creditors, and then distribute the estate assets to the beneficiaries either under the Will or by the laws of intestacy.
Our goal is to work with the Personal Representative to make his or her job as easy as possible to navigate the probate process. The timeframe generally lasts for over a year, so it is important to work with a firm that you can count on to be there when you need them.
Referrals available for advanced estate tax or nursing home/Medicaid planning or complex estate administration services