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Estate Planning

The Wallis Law Firm offers estate planning expertise to help clients make wise decisions throughout their life with respect to the ownership and transfer of assets. There is a great deal of misunderstanding about how estate planning works and what issues should be addressed. You need an experienced attorney to avoid the countless pitfalls and to advise you on the course best suited for your situation and your goals.

At Wallis Law Firm, P.A., we advise families on how to arrange their assets and then prepare the documents necessary to achieve those goals efficiently and effectively.

To begin your estate plan, download our questionnaire below. This will help you identify your questions and the issues you should address immediately.

What is Estate Planning?

Estate planning is the process of arranging your finances and begins with a discussion of goals and a review of your assets. It includes the use of trusts, powers of attorney, and advance directives for handling your affairs if you become ill or incapacitated. It attempts to avoid or limit the need for the court proceedings known as probate. 

  • Probate is the Court process of carrying out the instructions in your will for assets that pass under your will. It is public, slow, and expensive.
  • You need to consider each asset and its unique characteristics. Many assets could and should bypass probate if planned for appropriately.
  • Your goals, and therefore your plans will change as your circumstances change. You should reexamine your plans every year or two to make sure they remain current. Your children deserve the protection of legal planning.
  • An estate plan can help ensure that your loved ones are properly provided for if you become sick or die.
  • It can make sure that your health care is managed in the way you choose.

Drafting A Will

The law office of Wallis Law Firm, P.A. has extensive experience and expertise in drafting wills and other estate documents.

We can assist you with the preparation of:

Wills, Living Trusts, Financial Powers of Attorney, Health Care Powers of Attorney, Living Wills,  and other documents that may help you achieve your goals   You should have a will that reflects your wishes for your property. It should be general and include possible future assets and heirs, so that it does not need to be rewritten often. It should be properly witnessed and self-proving so that it can be admitted to probate without a search for the witnesses.

If you have young children, you should have a trust to assure that the funds are available for their support, even if you are not able to care for them yourself. In your will, you should appoint a guardian that you trust to raise them the way you would. Plan for all of your dependents.

Estate Documents You May Want To Know More About:

A will distributes property you own when you die. If you have not written a will, your property will pass to the heirs that are set by state law. A will should be drafted in general terms to control whatever assets you own at your death and to cover whatever beneficiaries are living at your death, so you do not have to revise it frequently. We do witnessed, self-proving wills that can be presented for probate without the testimony of family, friends and witnesses.

Your will is the best place to name who will physically take care of minor children, should you die before your children are grown and on their own (legally at age 18). You should pick one or more persons you would trust with your children, and equally important, people who are willing to take on the tremendous responsibility of taking care of your children. Whatever you do, contact these people and get their permission before you name them in your will.

Living Trust

A living trust has a settlor (you), one or more trustees who manage the assets in the trust according to the terms you set out, and one or more beneficiaries who receive the assets in the trust according to the terms you set out. It is in effect during your life as well as after your death. A living trust is used to manage assets for your benefit if you are disabled, or for the benefit of your dependents (such as children) if you are not available to handle these affairs yourself. Assets in a trust are not subject to your will and do not go through probate at your death.

Financial Power of Attorney

Everyone should have a power of attorney that appoints a trusted person as their attorney- in-fact to handle business for them whenever they cannot manage themselves. When you execute a financial power of attorney, you authorize your attorney-in-fact to carry on any business matter which you yourself could do, if you are unable to handle the business yourself for any reason.

Health Care Power of Attorney

With recent changes to federal law, you must appoint someone to make health care decisions if you are ever unable to decide for yourself. By executing a health care power of attorney, you select your agent, and one or more alternates, who are authorized to consent to or refuse any health care that may be considered for you. You may indicate your general wishes for health care and may make this power limited or broad.

Living Will

A living will allows you to indicate to your family and health care providers that if you are terminally and incurably ill or in a permanent vegetative state you do not wish extraordinary life support measures or artificial hydration and nutrition (tube feeding). This may be in addition to or instead of a health care power of attorney. A Living Will expresses a decision; a Health Care Power of Attorney delegates decision making to someone who understands your wishes.