Estate Planning is for the Living!

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  • Over 35 Years of Experience

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Let’s talk about estate planning. Did you know that several of the documents in an estate plan concern your needs while you are alive? It’s true!!

Sure, there’s the Will, maybe a Trust or two, and the Final Disposition – that’s the one that gives instructions about what to do with your remains – BUT while you’re living there’s the Financial Power of Attorney, Health Care Power of Attorney, Mental Health Care Power of Attorney, HIPAA Waiver, Voluntary Advance Directive for Oral Feedings and Fluids in the Case of Dementia, DNR and the Living Will. WHEW!!

Before COVID-19, only 20 percent of Americans had wills. According to a 2023 study by, 34.1% of US adults now (after COVID) have a Will. A will by itself is not enough. People need an ESTATE PLAN to plan for life events and death.


1. They don’t have enough assets to leave anyone;

2. They don’t have anyone to leave their assets to;

3. They don’t know how to create an estate plan;

4. They simply haven’t gotten around to it, and

5. They believe the cost of creating an estate plan is too expensive.

Let’s go over these:

REASONS #1 and #2:

The first two reasons are based on “assets.” Unfortunately many people don’t realize that they are the most important asset in their entire estate. The living, breathing person should be protected and have their wishes respected while they are alive, as well as after they pass.


Not knowing how to create an estate plan is #3 in our list of reasons. The first thing to know is NOT to do it yourself!!! These are often INADEQUATE to cover the needs or wishes of the self-represented person. Often the documents created even fail as legal documents. It is not unusual to see a computer generated document that is not signed, witnessed and notarized. Such a document has no legal value.

Call an estate planning attorney. If you have already self-prepared documents, call an estate planning attorney to look it over and advise you as to what it is lacking. We have been asked by a number of people what to do when a loved one has died and they bring us a self-prepared Will or Trust. These situations rarely go smoothly, are more costly, take more time, and are much more likely to be disputed than estate plan drawn up by a reputable, experienced estate planning attorney.


The very popular reason #4 is just not having gotten around to it. This can really create problems. Frankly, none of us are guaranteed a tomorrow and, like I’ve already said, several of the documents of a well-drafted estate plan deal with what happens while you are alive. For example, if someone has a stroke and they end up in a nursing home or other long-term care facility, the right language in an estate plan could protect their assets while still allowing them access to good care. Seeing everything someone has worked their entire life for going to the state rather than their family can really be very sad. It’s also quite expensive to go to Court to have a guardian or conservator appointed in case of a person’s temporary or permanent incapacity when all it takes is a properly drafted estate plan.


And last but certainly not least of our reasons is that it just costs too much to have an estate plan drawn up.

The fact is that an estate plan is a lot cheaper than a probate, a guardianship or a conservatorship, any or ALL of which are potential results of not have an estate plan. Further, the expense of going to court because of a family dispute is also a very real and very expensive possibility.

In short, having a quality, custom-designed estate plan is one of the best things you can do for yourself AND one of the best gifts you can give your family.

If you have other questions about estate planning or would like to set up an appointment, please call or text us at 480-345-8100.

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