What is Estate Planning?

One of the more common questions our law firm encounters is “what is estate planning?” Before answering this question, it’s important to point out that estate planning is one of the most misunderstood concepts of law. For instance, many believe that this concept is only applicable to super wealthy or elderly individuals. Simply put, this is not true.

The short answer to this question is that estate planning is setting up a plan so that your wishes are known in the event you become ill or pass away.

This article provides a background on this topic and describes various legal issues that an attorney who practices in this area of law deals with.

Background

Although it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly when lawyers started practicing in this area, there are historical records that suggest at least hundreds of years, if not more.

Since death is always a factor within anyone’s life, it wouldn’t be surprising if this was the oldest area of law. To put it simply, this became a legal practice area because people wanted to know what would happen with their property after they passed away.

What Does An Estate Planning Attorney Do?

Estate planning is unique to each individual’s situation. Some plans simply involve drafting a will for your family. Other situations may dictate more comprehensive planning such as establishing a trust to provide for a child with special needs, business succession plans, charitable entities, etc. This area of law has a great deal of overlap with other practice areas such as elder law (see article on “what is elder law”).

Below is a list of common issues a lawyer who practices in this area of law may deal with.

– Wills
– Trusts
– Healthcare Directives
– Asset Protection
– Power of Attorney
– Medicaid Planning
– Guardianship
– Conservatorship
– Special Needs Trusts
– Business Succession Planning

Video Transcript

Hi, my name is Sean Nichols, I’m an attorney who specializes in the legal issues that come with aging. My practice areas are elder law, estate planning and probate. I created my practice in 2011 to focus on unique legal needs with aging, although, I do work with people of all ages.

One of the most common questions I get is “what is estate planning.” There’s a lot of misconceptions when it comes to this topic, people think you need to be wealthy like in the TV show Downton Abbey where all the millionaires live on estates in English Countryside. This isn’t true, estate planning is setting things up when you’re alive and well to plan for things such as death, or illness.

As I tell clients, nobody has a crystal ball. It’s important to establish an estate plan while you’re healthy to avoid a hassle in court in the event you become ill or pass away. Estate plans do not have to be complex. One of the goals in my practice is to make it straightforward and efficient for my clients while covering everything they need.

Common estate issues include: wills, patient advocate designations, powers of attorney, trusts, deed work, asset protection, business succession planning, etc. 

We commonly deal with blended families (second marriages), and we help ensure there’s no fights over assets when someone passes away. We also help ensure someone’s family is able to help them if they should become sick and are able to settle the estate without getting in any disputes.

If you’d like to learn more about estate planning feel free to contact us.