Financial Estate Planning
is dedicated to providing services related to advance
directives, including the creation of financial and estate planning documents
such as wills (Last Will and Testament),
Living Wills and
Power of Attorney. Below are some
questions and answers related to financial estate planning.
What is estate planning?
Estate planning is a lifelong process in which you evaluate your situation
and plan for the future. It includes planning for your retirement, for the
possibility of disability, and for death. The estate planning process requires
that you consider a wide range of legal, financial, emotional, and logistical
issues. Proper estate planning will also allow you to minimize estate
taxes and death taxes.
Estate planning can be a positive experience, since it involves reviewing
your situation and planning for your future. Although most people also find it
unpleasant to think about the possibility of disability or death, advance
planning is also a way to show your love and to reduce potential distress later.
Because every person's situation is unique, there is no single "checklist" to
follow for estate planning. Proper estate planning also includes financial
Why do I need a will?
The vast majority of people do not have a Will. Some people feel that
they do not need one because they believe that the distribution of their estate
is obvious. Others find it to be too time consuming to get organized, find
a lawyer, arrange appointments and attend meetings during their already busy
schedules. Many feel that the lawyers' fees surrounding the creation and
maintenance of a Will are too expensive.
Whatever your reason may be, you should know that it is extremely important
that you have an up to date Will. If you die without a Will, the courts
will decide how your estate is distributed, and this may not be in the best
interests of your loved ones. It is impossible for us to know how your
estate will be distributed, but we do know that if you have a Will, then the
decisions are in your hands.
How do I create a will?
we have removed the obstacles to writing a Will.
It is convenient, low cost, and simple. The MyWill™
service will step you through a series of questions in a "wizard" format.
All questions are written in plain language, so you don't have to be a legal
expert to create your own Will. You simply answer the questions, complete
the details, and we automatically and instantly format a document that forms the
basis of a legal Will, custom-made for your local jurisdiction. This can
then be printed and signed in front of witnesses to become a legally binding
document. (In the future, we plan to allow you to sign your Will online
using a secure digital signature, once this becomes a legally recognized method
of signing a Will.) There is also plenty of supplementary information to
help answer all of your questions.
Furthermore, we allow your Will to be kept securely online at
so that you can make unlimited updates for as long as you are
a member here. For example, if you have a significant change in your life
you can revoke your previous Wills and create a new, dated, version. If
you have children, make a significant purchase, move houses, or get a pet ---
all of your revised wishes can be captured in a new version of your Will.
Not only will you have a legal document, but it will always be kept up to date.
Who will care for our children?
All parents worry about what would happen to their children if both parents
died. This concern draws many people to lawyers' offices to start the estate
planning process. If one parent dies or becomes incapacitated, then usually the
surviving parent will retain sole custody of any children, unless special
circumstances exist. If both parents die, then usually there must be a court
action to appoint a legal guardian for the children.
In such a proceeding, the court will always look first to the desires of the
parents, preferably expressed in a will. The court is required to appoint a
nominated person as guardian unless this would not be in the best interests of
What is probate?
In a probate proceeding, the court oversees the process of identifying the
deceased person's property, paying any debts, identifying the proper heirs, and
distributing the property to them. Most of the actual work is done by an
executor (usually a relative or friend of the deceased person), with the
assistance of an attorney and often an accountant. Not all of a deceased
person's property is subject to the probate process. Life insurance, retirement
accounts, and "joint tenancy" property all pass directly to the appropriate
beneficiary automatically, without any court confirmation. If the person created
a "living trust" any property held in the trust is not subject to probate. A
bank account or motor vehicle title may also specify a death beneficiary.
What is a Power of Attorney?
What if you were in a coma, or otherwise incapacitated such that you were
unable to communicate? Or struck with a disease or other tragedy which
affected your mind? Who should control your finances, or your assets?
A Power of Attorney document ensures that your wishes in these and other
unexpected circumstances are heard, understood, and carried out to your
There are actually a few different types of Power of Attorney:
A "General Power of Attorney" is the authorization for another
person to act on your behalf for legal, financial or business matters.
You may do this, for example, if you have emigrated and have ongoing legal
or business matters to attend to. In this case, it may be convenient
to have an authorized person sign documents on your behalf.
A "Durable Power of Attorney" has the same authorization, but the
powers continue to be effective even if you become mentally incapacitated or
incompetent for any reason. Of course, you must be competent before
the Durable Power of Attorney is set up. You can also set up a Durable
Power of Attorney to only come into effect if or when you become mentally
You can also create a "Power of Attorney for Healthcare" or "Advance
Health Care Directive". This gives the authority to a loved one to
make healthcare decisions on your behalf. For example, if you are
critically ill a Power of Attorney for Healthcare could dictate whether or
not you should receive life-sustaining treatment or medication.
How do I create a Power of Attorney?
You can create each of the above types of Power of Attorney, using the
MyLivingWill™ services here at
A simple wizard will lead you through the series of
questions which need to be answered. After you have completed the wizard,
your answers will be formatted to form the basis of a legal Power of Attorney or
Living Will document, which can then be printed, signed and witnessed.