Have you ever heard the phrase, “Get your affairs in order,” and wondered what it means? Getting your affairs in order is just a savvy way of saying build a complete, legally binding, and comprehensive Estate Plan with an experienced lawyer.
Before choosing a law firm that specializes in Estate Planning, you’ll need to be able to answer the question, “What exactly is an Estate Plan?” Contrary to popular belief, an Estate Plan doesn’t just legally protect your belongings, but it also helps to make your desires clear for your own healthcare and burial, living pets and minor children, the people who will be tasked to manage your affairs, bank assets, business dealings, real estate, and any other accounts you hold. Understanding Estate documents and the legal need for each in New Mexico will help you to create a comprehensive plan with your lawyer and include your family in the process if you wish to do so. Read through the list below for a full understanding of a complete Estate Plan and some of your many options when creating your own.
- Last Will and Testament – usually known simply as a Will.
This document outlines your desires for your assets in all forms, as well as naming/nominating a Personal Representative of the Estate. The Personal Representative isn’t necessarily the person you wish to leave your belongings to; it is the person who will be in charge of making sure your wishes are fulfilled in the manor outlined in your Last Will and Testament. Naming a Personal Representative can help avoid arguments, disagreements, and litigation after your death.
- Durable Power of Attorney
This document names/nominates a person to oversee your affairs prior to your death. It can be written to allow power over very specific actions relating to your assets, accounts, and business dealings, or it can allow for general power over all your affairs. A Durable Power of Attorney can also be written to allow this power to become effective only when you have become incapacitated, or it can become effective immediately upon signing.
- Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare – also called a Healthcare Directive, Advanced Directives, or a Living Will in New Mexico.
This document outlines your desires for the type of healthcare you wish to receive or deny in the case of an illness or injury in which your life is threatened or you are unable to make health decisions for yourself. In New Mexico A Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare also allows you to name/nominate a single person and up to two alternates to oversee all healthcare decisions for you based on the desires you make known in your Living Will. This document does not give power to make any decisions outside of your healthcare.
- Funeral and Burial Directive – sometimes called a Funeral and Burial Letter.
This document outlines your desires for all things relating to your body and memorial services after your death. It can be very specific, outlining every detail of your wishes including your obituary, headstone, burial location, open or closed casket choice (or your desire to be cremated), request specific music, readers and readings at your funeral, nominate pallbearers and an officiant, and even dictate the location of memorial services. It can also be very general, allowing for your family or other named persons to make decisions about your funeral. A funeral and burial letter also reinforces your desires relating to organ donation and overrides any organ donation desire that you may have previously made, such as on your driver’s license.
- Trust – a guardian-like relationship over assets between Grantor and Trustee(s).
A Trust is the establishment of a separate entity to which all your assets will essentially belong to and transfer into. Two common types of Trusts that we come across are Irrevocable Trusts and Revocable Trusts. Changes can be made to a Revocable Trust by the individual or individuals who set up the Trust – called the Grantor(s) – while they are alive. Irrevocable Trusts, on the other hand, typically cannot be changed during the lifetime of the individual or individuals who set up the Trust. A Trust is more comprehensive than a Will and is usually best for assets and accounts that will be active and managed by yourself while you are alive and managed by a Trustee after your death. Even with an established Trust, a Last Will and Testament will need to accompany your Estate Plan. Setting up a Trust also helps heirs avoid Probate – distribution of Estate assets monitored by the Court – which can be time consuming and burdensome, and may even lead to costly litigation.
A law firm that specializes in Estate Planning will guide you through the process of creating the above documents so that they are legally binding and cover every aspect of your affairs.
The Right Estate Planning Attorney Makes All The Difference
As an Estate Planning Lawyer serving New Mexico, Erika E. Anderson takes time to get to know and understand every client’s financial situation and their desires for the future. The Law Offices of Erika E. Anderson is comprised of a team of dedicated and experienced staff who understand the various issues that can lead to possible litigation and Will contestation. Erika Anderson’s team knows the concise language required in the creation of an Estate Plan that reduces the possibilities of disputes arising in the future.
To get started on creating your New Mexico Estate Plan with the Law Offices of Erika E. Anderson, please fill out this form.