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    When researching the estate planning process, it is normal to have a lot of questions. 

    Below are some of the most frequently asked questions. During your consultation, I am happy to answer questions in more detail, as well as, discuss advanced estate planning techniques for larger estates.  

    What is an estate plan? 

    An estate plan is the process of looking at your life, your family, your business, and planning for expected and unexpected serious illness, death, or other things to make sure your wishes are carried out. In addition, a good estate plan helps streamline the process of transitioning businesses, property, care for family members, etc. in a way that minimizes stress, reduces taxes, and attempts to ensure what you haved worked hard for isn't spent on costly litigation, probate fees, etc. I also like to include discussions of medical directives, living wills, and other aspects of what might happen if you were badly injured in a car accident. 

    What does an estate plan include? 

    A great estate plan should include an in depth look at your immediate and extended family, your business interests, personal interests and more. It includes discussion of each option available, how it would impact you and your interests now and in the future, and recommendations based on that. It can include wills, different types of trusts, power of attorneys, planning for future medical decisions, and even carrying out of your wishes after your death through the administration of your estate. 

    What does an estate plan not include? 

    A good estate plan shouldn't be a cookie cutter template that asks you who gets what and when. Going to a Certified Estate Planning, Probate, and Trust Specialist means you get real direction, education, and support during every stage of the process. 

    Isn't an estate plan just a will? 

    For some, an estate plan could be as simple as a last will and testament. However, in most cases that is not a good plan.  A simple will may not be the best way to take care of your property, businesses, or family if something should happen. Wills often do not explore probate fees, ways to avoid paying unnecessary taxes, etc. In addition, many of us have complicated situations. Blended families, special needs children, and other situations may need to have very specialized plans made to ensure people are taken care of, and that hopefully litigation and family conflict are avoided if at all possible. There are other ways to transfer ownership of your property to family members without expensive fees.

    I saw a place to get a will for $99, what's different about your services? 

    Online services often assume that you already know what makes the most sense for your family. They also don't provide that personal touch that you or your family need to navigate such a complex process. Overlooking an option or not understanding a question can lead to a plan that just isn't in the best interest of you or your family. Worst case scenario, that could mean expensive and stressful court battles. My job is to make sure nothing is overlooked, to ask you the important questions. (Although I can't guarantee perfection if I'm given incorrect information, I will do my best to make sure we get to the bottom of your needs!) In addition, an estate planner isn't always a lawyer, or experienced and may not be able to tell you the best legal route to take.

    My loved one has passed or is incapacitated, is it too late to get help with estate planning?

    Unfortunately, many of the families I work with come to me after there has been a death, major illness, or serious injury. While I love to work with people to avoid the extra stress this causes by estate planning early, I have a heart for working with people during difficult times. It is never too late to get information. And the less planning that has been done, the more imperative it can be to get sound legal counsel. 

    When should I start the estate planning process? 

    Sadly, it is never too early to start estate planning. I've worked with families who have lost loved ones at all ages due to illness, unexpected accidents, and more. Your family deserves to concentrate on grieving your loss if anything was to happen. This is a wonderful (though slightly dark) gift to give to your family members. Not having an estate plan is not uncommon, somewhere over 100 million Americans don't have one. However, if you have ever lost a loved one who didn't have a plan in place, or had a simple will you know the nightmare that can ensue. 

    How long does it take to get an estate plan in place? 

    The simple answer is, it depends. If you meet with me for your free consultatin, we will discuss the scope of your needs, the steps involved in the process, and the timeline to getting things squared away. In addition, we will revisit your estate plan as your needs change, tax rules change, or even periodically to ensure that we reduce the risk of litigation that an outdated estate plan can bring. 

    Do you work with unmarried or same sex couples? 

    Absolutely. Working with same sex and unmarried couples requires certain expertise to ensure your wishes are carried out and your rights are protected. I am happy to work with you and your family. 

    I am sure you have many more questions about estate planning. Call me at (209) 521-1500 for your free estate planning consultation or fill out the form to the right.