Information Center

At Wiley Etter, LLC, we strive to educate our clients so that they completely understand their customized estate plan. Learning about your estate plan is so important we insist that you learn as much as possible about your documents.

We have created an information center to assist with learning more about estate planning and to explain unfamiliar legal terms. Below you will find information on the basic estate planning tools available to you.

Estate Planning – General Definition
The process of creating a financial and legal plan to leave assets to your loved ones after your death. This includes both the minimization of taxes and asset protection.

Last Will & Testament
A document that controls the distribution of assets after an individual passes away. This document is administered in the Probate Court by a Probate Judge. There are fees associated with going through the probate process which are calculated as a percentage of the deceased entire estate, regardless whether or not the assets are probate-able.

Living Will
Another integral estate planning document is a Living Will. In the event of a tragic injury or illness that you are not able to recover from, a living will clearly states your wishes to be kept on life support indefinitely or provides your instruction to the Doctors to remove all life support and let you pass naturally.

Health Care Power of Attorney
In the event you are incapacitated and unable to communicate a Health Care Power of Attorney will make medical decisions on your behalf. This is one of the most crucial and frequently overlooked part of an estate plan. Having a local health care power of attorney and a valid backup is crucial for every plan.

Durable Power of Attorney
Also known as a Financial Power of Attorney or a “Power of Attorney” in the movies, a durable power of attorney is arguable the most powerful estate planning document. It allows an individual to act on your behalf and write checks, enter into contracts, and generally spend your money. While an agent is required to spend your money in your best interest it is still the document is most likely to be used for improper purposes. Therefore it is crucial that you choose an agent wisely.

Revocable Trust
A document that controls the distribution of assets after an individual passes away. This document is essentially a contract with yourself to determine where a deceased persons assets go. While this document does the same thing as a Last Will and Testament it goes about it in an alternative manner.

While a Last Will and Testament speaks only at death a Revocable Living Trust is valid from the moment it is signed. This Trust or Contract can be amended or revoked at any time. This essentially means that like a will you change your mind as many times as you want as long as you are alive. At your death the trust becomes irrevocable and can no longer be changed.

There are several advantages to a Revocable Living Trust over a Last Will and Testament:
First a Revocable Living Trust is a private document. After your death it will not be released to the public whereas a Last Will and Testament is available to anyone who requests it.

Second since a revocable Living Trust speaks during life it can be designed to protect you in the event you become disabled. A well drafted trust will have guidelines on how to care for you and how to spend your money in the event you become incapacitated. That’s right this trust can actually help you during your life!

Third, if all of your assets are owned by your Revocable Living Trust at your death then the probate process is much quicker. Unfortunately you will still have to pay the probate fee but generally attorney fees and time of probate are drastically reduced.

Fourth, a Revocable Living Trust can be designed to provide Asset protection for your loved ones after you die. A properly designed trust can protect the trust funds in the event a beneficiary runs into financial distress caused by bankruptcy, divorce, or liability in a car accident. This is the reason most of our clients elect for a Revocable Trust Plan.

A Codicil is an addition or supplement that explains, modifies, or revokes a will.  This document generally is required to be witnessed with the same formalities as a Will.