Estate planning when it is all set and done is often a variety of documents prepared in accordance to your wishes and financial situation that work in conjunction with each other to accomplish a variety of objectives.
Sometimes you may only need one or two documents prepared as a stop-gap measure before you are able to deal with the larger estate planning concerns for your family.
Obviously, the largest barrier to estate planning for most Americans involves money. Most Americans don't have enough money in their checking account to write a check for a grand or two to an attorney for estate planning documents without budgeting for it.
One way to get around this is to ask your attorney if he or she would be willing to prepare estate planning documents a la carte.
Here are some ways this can work:
- You are leaving for a two week trip to Europe. You want to name someone to manage your financial affairs while you are out of the country. And, better yet, you want this power to be effective for only the month of October. A Durable Power of Attorney with an expiration date of midnight, October 31, 2006, would accomplish this. [An expiration date of midnight, October 31 would truly be a witching hour.]
- You find yourself communicating with a loved one's doctor for a recent medical condition. Your loved one is having a hard time understanding their treatment options and want you to get involved. Your loved one can appoint you as their agent in their Advance Health Care Directive. This Advance Health Care Directive can be effective immediately.
- You have a minor child. You and your spouse are worried about who would be named guardian for your minor child if something happens to you and your spouse at the same time. You can draft a Will with testamentary trust provisions to nominate guardians for your child and put it place a trust to be formed if you and your spouse passed away.
One document alone does not make a proper estate plan, but it is important to realize that each document has different objectives and can be prepared independently.
Most attorneys charge a flat fee to prepare these kinds of documents. The flat fee is usually equivalent to one hour of the attorney's normal hourly rate.