This is a question we hear over and over from clients, family members and friends. In general the answer is yes – people can usually benefit from – at a minimum—a basic estate plan, which would include a will, health care proxy and power of attorney. That being said, there are other estate planning tools that might be considered – it may be that a trust or other instrument better suits your particular needs.
In addition to describing what happens to your property after passing, a will can also address the issue of who would care for minor children, who would be the person in charge of making sure that the will’s instructions are followed and how much oversight the court should have over the probate process. Having a will can be an important tool to help your wishes be followed regarding your family and property after you pass away. Similarly, a health care proxy and power of attorney are tools that can help you to have a voice regarding your health care, finances and other personal decisions were something to happen such that you were no longer able to make decisions on your own behalf. A large part of our practice involves helping families and providers obtain guardianship and/or conservatorship when one or both of these documents had not been prepared, updated or drafted well enough to eliminate gaps in protection. Guardianship and conservatorship are more public, lengthier and more expensive processes in which the probate court (as opposed to you) would determine who will make decisions on your behalf. It can be far more efficient to have these three documents instead, all of which are relatively simple to prepare, can preserve your voice and can increase peace of mind.