Tag Archives: elder law

Elder Law Attorney v. Internet

In the age of Pinterest boards, YouTube videos, and political Tweets a “do it yourself” mentality pervades our society. DIY can be a good route for home decor, it’s not always the best idea for estate planning. An experienced elder law attorney can help you put together an estate plan that works for you, your beneficiaries and your assets.

DIY estate plans can have catastrophic consequences.

A client hired our elder law firm to help with the probate of his dad’s estate.  Her father had remarried later in life after his kids were grown and his wife also had children from a prior marriage.  His wife passed first and left everything to dad.  Dad frequently discussed his intent for all their children – his and his wife’s – to inherit equal shares of his estate.  Dad prepared a will using an online legal service. 

The will was clear about how he wanted his estate distributed, however it was not signed in front of two witnesses.  A fatal flaw for a will in Wisconsin, and one an elder law firm would probably not make.  It therefore does not control the distribution of his estate’s assets.  Without a will, his children are entitled to inherit everything, cutting out his wife’s children.

Online Legal Services can Create Significant Problems. 

Another client came to us after her partner passed.  They had never married.  Her partner created a will using an online service to leave her everything and it was correctly executed.  Unfortunately, the forms were not completed correctly, with the beneficiary portion was left blank in the final version.  Without being named as a beneficiary, she was not entitled to any of the estate. Instead it was distributed to estranged relatives.

Hiring an Elder Law Attorney Is Less Expensive in the Long Run

For many, the biggest draw of DIY estate planning websites is the low cost. However, a DIY estate plan can ultimately be more expensive. Many elder law attorneys charge flat fees for estate plans, whereas legal services for a probate are billed hourly. If the DIY will fails or is contested, the costs will far exceed the costs of hiring a lawyer to draft your plan originally. 

Lawyers are Experts

elder law lawyers know how to handle the complicated situations that can arise in estate planning. Owning a business, marrying more than once, and having a disabled child are just a few examples of complexities in estate planning. Generic online forms are often not equipped for these issues. Working with an attorney guarantees that your loved ones will be taken care of, no matter how intricate your family tree. 

State Laws Matter

Estate planning is at the intersection of several areas of law. Estate planning involves dealing with real estate, taxes, and health care, among other things. As many have found out Laws also vary widely by state, which online estate planning tools don’t always account for properly. In order to make sure that your estate plan is valid and aligns with your wishes, it’s important to work with an experienced elder law attorney in your state. 

Maximize Value

Beyond ensuring that your estate plan is valid, elder law attorneys can help you maximize the value of your estate. After learning more about the contents of your estate, your attorney can help determine exactly which documents you need and how you can avoid unnecessary taxes. 

An elder law attorney can work with you to identify your goals for your estate and make them a reality.


Resources:

Check out some relevant articles:

Forbes Articles:

Is Do-It-Yourself Estate Planning a Valid Option?

The Case Against Do-It-Yourself Wills

Rebecca Mason Law Blog Posts:

National Health Decision Day

Estate Planning: A gift for your loved ones

10 Questions to Ask Your Loved Ones

We know the importance of planning for major events in our lives and sharing those plans with our family members and loved ones.

When dealing with finances, sometimes we hesitate. Discussing financial issues with family members often waits until a crisis occurs. Unfortunatley, it may be too late.

Money can be a sensitive subject with family members, it’s often at the center of many decisions in later life. Decisions such as housing, health, and long-term care. For older adults, talking with their children about future financial arrangements is critical, even if the children are reluctant to do so.

Now is the time to talk with your family members. Help them learn what information is needed. Provide information they can use to assist you through any challenging times as you age.

Here are 10 Questions to ask your loved ones or questions you can answer to help you start talking with family members:

Questions:

1. Do you have a will? Where is it? Do family members have access?

2. Do you have an advanced directive, such as a living will? Or health care durable power of attorney? Where is it?

3. Who has your power of attorney? Is it the executor of your estate? How can he/she be contacted?

4. Have you selected a funeral home? Planned or paid for a burial site?

5. What is the location of essential personal papers?

  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage certificates
  • Dissolution of marriage
  • Social Security
  • Military service records

6. Where do you keep life, health, property, and long-term care insurance policies?

7. Where is your checkbook? What bank do you use?

8. Do you have a safe deposit box? Where is it, and where is the key? Do you have a list of contents? Do family members have access?

9. Have you made a list of investments (savings accounts, certificates of deposit, stocks and bonds, etc.)?

10. What are the names and contact information of the financial advisers/institutions that have the investments?

Resources:

Thank you. SE Wisconsin

Today marks the first day of the seventh year for Rebecca Mason Law. We want to take this milestone opportunity to say thank you. Our team is honored to provide top-quality legal representation for southeastern Wisconsin and all of our clients.

My team works through some pretty tough times side by side with clients. We draft detailed estate plans, administer probates for your loved ones, work with families who have recently lost a loved one, and help you take care of your family members through guardianship’s.

Our office right here in Racine, WI has some of the most amazing clients in the world. It is our clients, who make this the best job ever. For that, we simply want to say Thank you!

I Met with a client today and we discussed the impending death of her mom. I was reminded of how fleeting life can be. And how amazing it is that I have the opportunity to walk this difficult walk with my clients. Thank you for sharing your stories about your loved ones. Thank you for sharing your tears. And being OK with being vulnerable. Thank you for sharing a little bit of yourselves with me. Because of you, this is the best job ever.

Rebecca Mason 8/25/2017