The Carrithers Law Office

What is a Last Will and Testament (“Will”)? A Will is a legal document that identifies to whom you want the assets in your probate estate to go when you die. Your probate estate consists of any asset you own at death that does not have a joint owner with survivorship rights, and does not have a beneficiary designation or a pay/transfer on death designee. The Will also permits you to nominate a guardian to be appointed at your death to care for your minor children until they reach eighteen years of age. A Will should self-proving to make it easier to administer the Will after your death and also to stave off Will contests. If you plan to use a Will to transfer your assets after you die, you should be aware that the original Will must be admitted to probate and will become public record. If you want to avoid probate, check out my page on Trusts or Estate Planning.

What is a Power of Attorney? A power of attorney is a legal document that is valid only while you are alive. It allows you to appoint someone to step in your shoes and take actions on your behalf while you are alive. An agent under a power of attorney (the person you appoint) is called an attorney-in-fact. Your power of attorney can be limited in scope and duration and can be dependent upon a condition. For example, a durable general power of attorney is one that gives broad based financial authority to the attorney-in-fact and will be effective as soon as you sign it and even if you later become incapacitated. A springing general power of attorney is one that gives broad based financial authority to the attorney-in-fact only when a certain identified condition, like incapacity, arises. A limited power of attorney narrows the scope of authority that an attorney-in-fact has to a certain time period or to a smaller set of powers. A healthcare power of attorney appoints someone to act on your behalf with respect to healthcare decisions if you are unable to act on your own behalf. Having a power of attorney is convenient for you but also for those you care about. The power of attorney allows your agent to take care of your affairs for you if you are alive but essentially unable to care for yourself. It prevents your loved ones from having to go to court to obtain guardianship over you.

What is a Deed? A deed is a legal document that provides a description of the property and states the owner and type of ownership of the property. It is the document that is used to transfer ownership of the property. There are many types of deeds including deeds of gift, deeds into trust, transfer on death deeds, bargain and sale deeds, boundary adjustment deeds, partition deeds, and easement deeds. Each type has a different purpose and certain rights attached to it but the first four are the most commonly used for estate plans.

Do You Really Need an Attorney to Prepare the Above Documents? Maybe not. There are many sites where you can obtain a Will online for a relatively cheap price and it may be all you need. What I offer to my clients is advice on what they need to do to achieve their specific objectives and arm them with the tools they need to accomplish those goals.

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