Planning for the End

Barrett King, Attorney at Law

“They couldn’t hit an elephant at this dist…”

 

These are the famous last words of Civil War General John Sedgwick who severely miscalculated the aim of the Confederate Army on his last day. In my line of work, I don’t often get to see so historic a miscalculation, but I do get to see what happens when people fail to stop and think about their last day.

 

“Estate planning” is a phrase that makes people think of millionaires and their lawyers. Sometimes, that’s true. More often, however, estate planning involves people who want to protect whatever it is they have for whoever it is they want to leave it to. For some, that involves trust funds and complex paperwork. For the rest of us, it involves naming the people that are important to us in a will and putting in writing exactly what we want to happen to our house or our personal possessions.

 

A will is important for unmarried couples who want to be sure that their significant other is taken care of in the event of death, and it is equally important for married couples.

 

“But my husband/wife will get everything if I die, right?” No! If you don’t have kids under eighteen, your spouse will receive just over one-half of your estate. If you do have kids, the court will require a guardianship for the one-half of your estate that goes to your children under eighteen. This is expensive, time-consuming, and unnecessary. All it takes is proper estate planning, whether by drafting a will, deed, or beneficiary designation form.

 

Just like a will is the foundation of an estate plan, it is important to plan for disability by signing a Power of Attorney. This document allows a trusted family member, friend, or other reliable person to take care of your financial matters if you cannot do it yourself. For younger people, it is much more likely that you will experience a disability than die prematurely. A will does nothing if you are still living, so someone needs the ability to handle your finances if you become disabled.

 

The same is true in the case of the advance directive, or “living will.” If you cannot make your own medical decisions, who will? Sign this important document to make sure that someone you trust to do what is best for you when it comes to deciding whether to continue treatment in certain situations.

 

Even though we are all members of the Colosseum Gym and we might feel like we’ll live forever after a good workout, the truth is that none of us will be here forever. It is important to meet with an estate planning lawyer to discuss your concerns and your needs for the inevitable. As long as you are living, you can rewrite your estate plan all you want. Once you’re gone, however, it either works as planned or it doesn’t.  Call in an expert and make sure the job is done right not just the first time, but the only time.

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Want to meet Barrett?

Contact him for a FREE estate planning consult:

Elville & Associates

9192 Red Branch Rd Suite 300

Columbia MD 21045

Phone- 410.997.4100     Email- barrett@elvilleassociates.com


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