Frequently Asked Questions About Estate Planning & More

New to Estate Planning? You're not alone. At Baxter Legal Services, we're here to make the estate planning process as smooth as possible for each of our clients. Read through our FAQ's to understand where to start, what you may need, and how we can help you. Contact us today to get started on your estate plan!

What is an estate plan?

An estate plan is essential to ensure your assets are handled exactly how you want should you pass away or become incapacitated. Each individual's estate plan will contain different documents depending on their needs. However, all estate plans will contain three key documents: a will, a medical power of attorney, and a financial power of attorney.

What is a last will and testament?

A last will and testament (also known as a will) is a document that outlines how an individual would like their property distributed once they pass away. It outlines who the beneficiaries are (those that will receive assets).

When is the best time to create a last will and testament?

Many believe that the best time to create a will is not until you are much older. However, the best time to create one is actually after having your first child (or as you expect your first child). A will doesn't only outline what to do with an individual's property. If the individual has a child or is a guardian over a minor, a will allows said individual to designate who that minor's guardian will be in the event they pass away. It's important to have this in place so that you can rest assured knowing your children will be cared for by those you love and trust.

What is a trust?

A legal trust has many different functions. It can hold property, preserve assets, avoid probate of real property, and can give contingent gifts. It can do essentially anything a person can with assets and property. Baxter Legal can help you properly set up a trust. 

What is the difference between a last will and testament and a living will?

A last will and testament (commonly referred to as a will) outlines important last requests in the event of an individual's passing. A living will is a completely separate document with a different function. The two are not interchangeable. A living will, also referred to as a healthcare directive, outlines what medical procedures or processes an individual does not want used on them in the event of death or incapacitation. Simply put, this document explains healthcare preferences. Living wills are pretty generically written, but can vary from person to person.

What do I do now that I have my estate plan?

Once you have an estate plan, it's important to ensure all affairs are in order. More specifically, there are four key considerations to take into account once you have an estate plan: ensure proper storage and access, account for non-probate assets, create an inventory for loved ones, and organize your online accounts and portfolios. There are specific steps to achieving each of these. Learn more here.

What is the difference between a trust and a will?

A trust document and a last will and testament are similar in some ways, but these documents have very different functions. The purpose of a will is to gather all individual assets and property and dispose of it all. A trust, rather than gather and dispose of assets, holds assets, property, possessions, etc. You can think of it almost like a box you put things into.

Another important difference is that a trust can give contingent gifts. A will outlines what assets are given to which Beneficiaries, but cannot set a contingency for these gifts to be given. 

What is the importance of hiring a business attorney? 

Businesses must adhere to the laws and regulations of different states and jurisdictions, which makes legal issues complex. From forming a new business to navigating taxes, having the help and advice of an experienced attorney can help mitigate your workload as business owner and ensure your business is in compliance with state regulations and laws. At Baxter Legal Services, our team of experienced business attorneys have been working alongside entrepreneurs for years, helping business owners create, expand, and stabilize their business ventures. Contact us to see how we can support you and your business. Learn more about business law here

Do I need an attorney to review a contract? 

While not legally required, hiring an attorney to review a contract is very important. Contracts can be difficult to understand and may even contain clauses that are counterproductive to your best interest. Hiring an experienced attorney to review your document or negotiate on your behalf will ensure your rights are protected. 

Read this client's story to learn how Baxter Legal Services helped her get the most out of her lease agreement.