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Estate Planning

Nearly everyone wants to ensure the safety and stability of their families. But even so, many people overlook just how much planning and forethought are really necessary in order to satisfy the legal requirements of estate planning for the future.


At Toeppen and Grevious, we can help with nearly all aspects of estate planning, such as writing wills and living trusts, establishing power of attorney, creating medical directives, naming guardians for children and dependents, and the creation of other legal instruments that are necessary in order to plan for the unpredictable.

Living Trusts

Trusts are one of the single most important legal tools for protecting liquid assets and property, by assuring that they will be passed on according to your wishes. Far too many people aren’t aware of the protections that can be afforded by establishing a living trust, including minimizing unnecessary taxation, avoiding the expensive and lengthy probate process, allowing a trustee to manage financial matters in the case of physical or mental incapacitation, and more.

Under some circumstances, it can be desirable to have the courts directly supervise the distribution of one’s assets. Living trusts aren’t always the best option. But for many people, a trust is the best way of avoiding the costly court probate, while establishing a legally binding directive for disseminating your property.

Wills

Wills are an important way of making sure that the possessions you value most go to the people you care about most. But wills are not just for taking care of things; a will makes it possible for you to name legal guardians for your children and other dependents. Wills can actually be very simple documents, and don’t necessarily take a great deal of time to create. But having the guidance of an experienced attorney can help avoid overlooking important considerations that could have costly consequences down the road.

Power of Attorney

While documents such as living trusts and wills are useful legal tools for naming guardians for one’s children and trustees to handle financial affairs, it’s extremely important to not overlook what may happen in the event of serious injury or incapacitation.

Choosing someone to make medical decisions for you in a worst case scenario is one of the most important considerations in day-to-day life, not only as a matter of physical security, but financial as well.

But it’s easy to overlook the legal complications that can arise when serious medical crises occur. While many trust their spouses or close family members to make decisions on their behalf, what happens when disagreements arise? Anybody who paid attention to the news about ten years ago should remember the case of Terri Schiavo, and the legal fight that played out between her husband and parents over who had ultimate authority over her medical care. It was a long, complicated, and traumatizing affair for all involved that played out because Schiavo left no written instructions for what should happen if she were to be unable to make medical decisions on her own behalf. And all of it could have been avoided if she had established what is known as a “durable power of attorney.”

A durable power of attorney is called “durable” because it retains its legal power when the person who originally made it is incapacitated and no longer able to make legal or medical decisions. When you give a family member or other trusted person power of attorney, this means that they are given the legal right to handle various aspects of your affairs, including the right to manage your financial assets, pay bills, and perhaps most importantly, make medical decisions for you. By giving a loved one power of attorney over your affairs, you can avoid many of the emotionally and financially costly disagreements that can arise when there are no written directives to turn to.

Emergency End-of-Life Estate Planning

Life is unpredictable. It’s easy to put off time-consuming legal matters by thinking, “I’ll get around to it, I’ve still got plenty of time.” But sometimes, the unthinkable happens, and people are suddenly faced with the realization that the only uncertainty about their remaining lifespans is how many weeks or months are left.

If you or a loved one are unexpectedly facing a critical end-of-life situation, and there are still legal affairs that need to be taken care of, Toeppen & Grevious can help you accelerate the process of creating or updating trusts, wills, powers of attorney, and other important legal documents.

Because of the unpredictable nature of our caseloads, we cannot guarantee the availability of this service. If you or a family member is in need of emergency assistance with estate planning, it’s extremely important that you call us immediately at (209) 456-5547 in order to have the best possible chance of receiving legal assistance in time. If at all possible, we will be more than happy to assist you in any way we can.