Working with an elder law or estate planning attorney may be one of the best investments a person can make, reports nj.com in its article, “Why an estate planning attorney is worth the money.” You need to make sure that all of your documents are in order. This is not an easy thing to do on your own.
With properly prepared estate planning documents, you will benefit yourself and your family or beneficiaries, both emotionally and financially. At a minimum, you should have an advance health care directive, also known as a living will. This is a document that appoints an agent and provides guidelines for your agent, with respect to your healthcare, in the event you’re unable to act.
You also need a power of attorney. This document designates an agent to take care of your financial affairs during your lifetime. You also need a will, which directs the administration of your estate following your death.
If you become incapacitated without a power of attorney and/or a living will, it’s likely that a guardianship proceeding will be required to appoint a guardian to handle your financial and personal affairs. A guardianship proceeding can be expensive, because of the appointment of an independent attorney for the alleged incapacitated person. There needs to be an attorney for the guardian. Two doctors are also required to examine the alleged incapacitated person and prepare affidavits for the court. All these people need to be paid.
If you have a will, it’s more likely that your assets will be disposed of in the way you want and administered by the person you selected, instead of by the intestacy laws. Every state has its own laws that determine who inherits the deceased’s property, when that person dies without a will. It sounds like a simple process, but there are legal terms and specific rules of intestate succession that must be followed.
The fee that is charged by an experienced estate planning and/or elder law attorney to prepare for and/or decrease the risk or cost of a number of potentially disastrous scenarios, is probably less than the cost of a guardianship proceeding or a month of private pay in a nursing home. It’s a worthwhile investment for you and your family.
Reference: nj.com (June 3, 2018) “Why an estate planning attorney is worth the money”