Six questions to ask your lawyer before it's too late

  • Does my will or trust distribute my assets as I think it does? As family situations and the laws change our wills and trusts should be reviewed and amended as may be necessary. Review your estate planning documents and call your lawyer if you do not understand the language or legal jargon. What you may have understood when they were prepared may be different than your intentions at this time.
  • What if the person who I gave power of attorney to does not follow my wishes? A power of attorney is a powerful instrument and is dangerous in the wrong hands. Creating checks and balances to avoid placing temptation in the wrong hands is important to your family's future. An example of good checks and balances is the naming of two, rather than one, individuals to manage your estate or trust. Choose people who will look over each other's shoulders and keep each other honest.
  • Is my living will up to date? A living will tells the world you do not wish your life to be extended by extraordinary means. Be sure copies are distributed to your doctors and family members.
  • Who makes health care decisions for me when I cannot make them for myself? Everyone should appoint what is known as a "health care surrogate" to make these important decisions. Be certain the person you appoint is willing and able to act in what may be an urgent situation.
  • Are my beneficiaries protected if the administrator of my probate estate or trust fails to do their job properly? The law provides some protection, but the beneficiaries must file a law suit to enforce their rights. It is better to build checks and balances into your estate planning documents, and chose the right administrators. An example is the Beneficiaries' Bill of Rights which are a part of all will and trusts prepared at our office. The Beneficiaries' Bill of Rights gives beneficiaries extraordinary rights beyond what the law provided to protect those beneficiaries.
  • Are my plans for my funeral enforceable? Your plans should be set out in writing. If you wish to be cremated you should state your wishes in your will or in a separate witnessed and notarized document. Planning ahead for your funeral will take the stress off your loved ones at a particularly stressful time.