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Estate Planning Attorneys

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Many people think that only the rich or elderly need estate planning attorneys. But no matter what your age or financial status, you should retain an estate planning attorney to make sure that all of your affairs and loved ones will be taken care of after your death. Estate planning is particularly important if you have minor children.

If you are in a field of work that is dangerous, you should also consider getting your affairs in order. Even if you do not have a fatal accident, in the event that you're unable to make health care decisions on your own, an estate planning attorney will have prepared the proper documents so that your care can be managed by another person. 

Estate planning attorneys can prepare documents such as a last will and testament, a living will or advance health directive, a health care surrogate designation, or a power of attorney naming a person to handle any or all of your affairs. 

Estate planning attorneys also provide the following services: asset protection to shield your wealth from creditors, advice on elder law and elderly abuse, estate administration, estate or probate disputes, Medicaid planning, trusts and living trusts. 

A will transfers property that is in your name to another person or entity that you have specified. If you have minor children, the will also specifies who their legal guardian will be. You can also name an executor in the will. This is the person who makes sure that all of your instructions are carried out.

A durable power of attorney for health care (sometimes called a health care proxy) names the person whom you would like to make your health care decisions for you should you become unable to make those decisions on your own.

A living will (sometimes known as an advance directive) spells out your wishes to medical personnel regarding the extent of care you want should you become permanently incapacitated. It will also indicate to medical personnel whether or not to use artificial life support.

A living trust, unlike a will, becomes effective immediately upon your death. A living trust names a successor trustee. You can be the trustee in a living trust. You carry out your own instructions in the living trust, and when you can no longer carry out the instructions, the successor trustee takes over. Living trusts can be revocable or irrevocable, that is changeable or not while you are alive. 

The state bar association regulates estate planning attorneys, like all other attorneys. The attorneys must also take continuing education classes, including an ethics class. Always interview several attorneys before choosing the one who will help you manage your estate. 

Related topics: Family Law, Wrongful Death Attorney

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