What is the value of Great Falls estate planning with the assistance of qualified legal counsel?
Estate planning is an activity many people think they must do when they are older, or become infirmed. Accidents and unexpected death occur randomly and all adults should take time to put their affairs in order, in the event they become incapacitated and cannot speak for themselves, or they die. Experienced Great Falls estate planning attorneys can assist with the drafting of relevant documents and guidance for individuals as they prepare estate plans.
Estate plans usually include:
- A last will and testament, with guardianship if there are minor children,
- an advanced healthcare directive, and
- a durable power of attorney.
Purpose of a will in Great Falls Montana.
A Last Will and Testament is important for the purposes of explaining where and how an individual would like their assets divided, debts resolved and end of life issues outlined. An experienced Great Falls Montana estate planning attorney can make sure a will contains the legally necessary language so that a person’s wishes can be honored at the time of their death according to state and federal laws. Wills must be prepared properly, signed, witnessed, and notarized (rules may vary from state-to-state). Key provisions of a will usually include:
- Identification of the testator,
- Identification of document as the last will and testament,
- Appointment of the executor,
- Distribution of personal property,
- Bequests – defined as special or general,
- Payment of estate expenses – somewhat self-explanatory and concerns the creditors of the deceased testator (decedent). After admission to probate, notice is published in the local paper and will also be sent to all known creditors, who have a specified number of days to file a claim against the estate outlined in state probate laws,
- Distribution of residuary estate – A will should always designate who is to receive the residuary of the estate in some fashion whether that is “to my heirs in equal shares per stirpes” or “to my two children, for example, depending upon state probate laws.
- Other provisions testator requests pertaining to asset distribution.
Great Falls common wills.
Pour Over Will is used when there is a revocable trust and instead of making the distributions to a single beneficiary, or beneficiaries, the will generally makes one distribution into the Trust. This type of will requires all of the other key provisions mentioned, but it essentially transfers the duty to distribute the estate assets to the trustee of the trust.
Great Falls Montana Medicaid Will be used to create a supplemental trust fund in order to allow a spouse who is receiving Medicaid benefits for long-term medical care to continue eligibility after the other spouse dies.
Will With Testamentary Trust is a last will and testament that adds a trust fund for children or other beneficiaries, creating a trust that becomes effective upon the death of the testator.
Holographic, or Handwritten Wills may be recognized in some states, but a Great Falls estate planning attorney can guide individuals regarding the legitimacy of this type of will document.
Nuncupative Will is an oral will when and individual speaks their last wishes out loud (“dying declaration”), and may be valid in some states depending upon witnesses, or may have to be written down. There may be limitations for disposing of property.
Estate planning not only includes actions to be taken after a person’s death, but it also spells out actions to be taken for an individual’s medical care in the event they cannot speak for themselves. Great Falls Montana estate planning lawyers can help with the completion of these very important documents to make sure common scenarios are spelled out in the living will.
Living wills in Great Falls address common end-of-life care decisions outlined in a living will including:
- Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to restart a heart when it stops beating. Determine if and when resuscitation by CPR or a device that stimulates the heart should be undertaken.
- Mechanical ventilation takes over breathing when someone is unable to breathe on their own. Be clear about if, and how long a person should be on a ventilator.
- Tube feeding supplies the body with nutrients and fluids intravenously or via a tube in the stomach. Clarify if, and how long tube feeding should continue.
- Dialysis removes waste from your blood and manages fluid levels if your kidneys no longer function. Specify if, and how long treatment should continue.
- Antibiotics or antiviral medications can be used to treat many infections. Determine if treatment should be undertaken.
- Comfort care (palliative care) includes any number of interventions that may be used to keep an individual comfortable and manage pain, including wishes to die at home, receiving pain medications, oral relief with ice chips to soothe mouth dryness, and avoiding invasive tests or treatments.
- Organ and tissue donations for transplantation can be specified in a living will. If organs are removed for donation, life-sustaining treatment may continue temporarily until the procedure is complete.
- Donating a body for scientific study also can be specified.
Do not resuscitate – do not intubate.
An individual does not need to have an advance directive, or living will to have do not resuscitate (DNR) and do not intubate (DNI) orders. To establish DNR or DNI orders, inform a doctor about these preferences so they can write an order and keep it as part of a medical record. Even if a living will already has established resuscitation and intubation preferences, it is still a good idea to establish DNR or DNI orders each time a person is admitted to a new hospital or health care facility.
Great Falls Montana estate planning attorneys draft essential documentation, sometimes called a medical directive or advance directive, to cover an individual, or family members regarding medical power of attorney and do not resuscitate orders. Each state has their own requirements as to who can be named through durable powers of attorney, and the way they are witnessed. It is best to speak with a Great Falls estate planning attorney in the state of residency for individuals, as they prepare estate planning documents to ensure individual state estate planning and probate laws are followed.
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