Frequently Asked Questions

Do I really need a will?

If you do not have a will, the laws of the state where you live at the time of your death will determine who inherits your estate and who serves as your executor.  Often, the way we expect the inheritance to pass is not how the laws require.  In addition, the role of executor (also called “administrator” or “personal representative”) is a very powerful one that most people would prefer to have a say in who is appointed.  Clear direction and proper planning can often help minimize will contests, objections, and fights among beneficiaries.  

Do I really need a lawyer to prepare my will and power of attorney?  

Your legacy is important, and you have several options to protect that legacy, maintain its integrity, and pass it on to your intended beneficiaries.  Experienced estate planning attorneys such as our firm can help make sure that your will, trust, and other estate planning documents do exactly that.  You may want to ensure that you are protected during your life, that your assets are protected from creditors, your estate is not dissipated, or to minimize taxes. 

Who should I name as my agent under my power of attorney, executor, trustee, or guardian of my children?

If you are asking this question, know that you are not alone.  Many people feel that the person who “should” be the executor or personal representative under their will or agent under their power of attorney are not the people they trust to fulfill the responsibilities.  We can help you decide who is the best person to make sure your will, trust, or power of attorney are carried out properly by listening to your concerns and helping you find the best person for these roles.  

I have a will from a long time ago.  Do I need a new one?

We strongly recommend that you review your estate plan and update it regularly to make sure that it meets current law and your wishes.  If you haven’t looked at your will, trust, power of attorney, or health care directive in the last four to five years, we would be happy to review them with you to ensure they will continue to achieve your goals. 

There are some situations that are “flags” for you to update your will, trust, power of attorney, or health care directive.  You should review your estate plan with a lawyer if, for example:

-          You or your beneficiaries have been married, divorced, or re-married since you signed your documents.

-          You or your beneficiaries have had or adopted children since the time you signed your documents.

-          You have moved to a different state than where you lived when you signed your documents.

-          Your assets have changed significantly in type or value.

-          You wish to remove or add beneficiaries.

-          A beneficiary, guardian, trustee, executor, personal representative, or agent passed away or you no longer want them to serve. 

-          You have not reviewed your plan in at least 10 years; this is because the tax laws affecting federal estate tax, powers of attorney, and other aspects of estate planning have changed significantly in this time, and your documents may no longer do what you want.

How can I avoid fights among my family members after I die?

The best way to help ensure that your family does not fall into the trap of argument and discord about your estate is to be transparent with them during your lifetime.  If they know the general reasons why your estate plan is set up the way it is, then they are less likely to argue about it later.  Dealing with potential issues now can save you and your family stress and money later.  At Elle Van Dahlgren Law, LLC, we offer you several strategies (and support, if you would like it) to help you communicate with your family in a way that makes you most comfortable and helps them understand your goals.

To make an appointment, please contact Elle Van Dahlgren Law, LLC by calling 302-407-5009 today.