What events trigger the need to discuss your estate plan with your attorney?
It is uncomfortable to talk about our own illness or death or those of the ones we love. That is why many are hesitant to contact an estate planning attorney, especially early in life. But, at certain times, you need to put your feelings aside and reach out. There are a number of events that trigger the need for you to contact your attorney.
Many people are diagnosed with serious, even terminal illnesses, every day. If you are one of these people, it is likely that you might become incapacitated at some point in the future. You need to plan for this time and there is no better way than by contacting an estate planning attorney. You might want to execute a durable power of attorney and other advanced medical directives. These documents allow you to name someone you trust to make decisions for you should you be unable to do so yourself.
You should also contact your lawyer if there is a death in the family. While you don’t have to reach out immediately, you should do as soon after the person’s death as practicable to determine what needs to be done with regard to his or her estate. There could be probate or administration, trust or other issues that need to be handled within a certain period of time. If the deceased was part of your estate plan, you should consider making any necessary changes.
While it might not seem like it, marriage or engagement is another event that triggers the need to speak to an estate planning attorney. Marriages have a direct effect on the ownership of property. The parties entering into the marriage need to determine if a prenuptial agreement is needed. Prenuptial agreements can be important in first marriages, as well as in second marriages where children from prior relationships are involved.
Other instances in which contacting an estate planning attorney are necessary may be more uncomfortable. These include times when one of your intended heirs is going through a rough patch that affects familial, and often financial, arrangements. Whether the problem is marital trouble, substance abuse or legal difficulties, you will need to determine whether you want the designated person to benefit from an inheritance and/or whether you should consider putting restrictions on such an inheritance.
This is precisely the type of problem an estate planning attorney is prepared to help you with. Not only is such an attorney knowledgeable about legal matters, but he or she has had experience in such matters. In addition, the attorney is not emotionally involved and so can help you maintain a realistic perspective.