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Our Attorneys Answer Questions Frequently Asked About Estate Planning

Talking about what happens after you die can be unpleasant, but planning where your assets will go will be a big help to your loved ones. Don’t procrastinate. With the help of the law office of Murphy, Butterfield & Holland, P.C., the process is not as difficult as you might think. Here are brief answers to frequently asked estate planning questions.

Why do I need a will?

A little planning now can ease the burden of those who survive you and minimize taxes to the extent legally possible. Preparation of a will can also ensure that your estate ends up in the hands of those individuals, organizations or charities you’ve selected. If you have minor children, a will also lets you decide who will raise your children and handle the assets until they come of age.

If I don’t have a will, does the state seize my estate?

No. However, the estate will pass under the intestacy laws and may end up in the hands of individuals to whom you did not wish your estate to pass.

Who is an executor?

An executor is a person you choose to handle the settlement of your estate. That person will be responsible for valuing assets, paying debts and administrative expenses, filing death tax and income tax returns, and handling the distribution of your estate to your heirs. An executor does not have to have prior experience to be effective but should be someone you trust to deal with things promptly and thoroughly.

Who is trustee?

A trustee is a person you choose to handle assets distributed from your estate, usually to minors, until they come of age. This person will handle the investments as well as make decisions on any distributions made on behalf of the minor in accordance with the provisions of the trust established by your will.

Who is a guardian?

A guardian is a person you appoint in your will to raise your children. A guardian is like a substitute parent.

Can one person serve as my executor, trustee and guardian?

Yes. If you have someone with the capability, there is no reason not to appoint the same person to all functions, and there may actually be some benefit such as continuity.

Can I draft my own will?

Yes, but there are numerous problems that can be encountered if you draft your own will. Even Warren Burger, once the Chief Justice of the United States, made serious errors when drafting a will for himself. Since the cost is not significant, it is prudent to leave the drafting to a professional.

If I want to change my will later, do I have to have a new will written?

Usually, simple changes are done by codicil, which is a short, simple and affordable document.

Do you file my will at the courthouse after I have signed it?

No. Your will is a confidential document until it is probated after your death.

What is the difference between a living will and a living trust?

A living trust is a document that collects or names all of your assets and determines who will control those assets. A living will is a document that defines your wishes about health care and life support if you become incapacitated.

Can I save taxes with a living trust?

While there are uses for a living trust, they don’t save on taxes and probate fees, and often there are additional expenses for preparing them.

What is a power of attorney?

A power of attorney is someone who is responsible to control your finances if you are disabled or unable to make those decisions.

Get Sound Legal Advice And Advocacy For Your Estate Planning

Contact our experienced estate planning attorneys at Murphy, Butterfield & Holland, P.C., in Williamsport for legal assistance with your estate plan. Send us an email or call our office at 570-326-6505 to schedule a consultation.