Frequently Asked Questions

6. Can’t I just do this on some website for a lot less?

You can absolutely complete form documents pertaining to estate planning online at a deep discount or use a lawyer “who also does estate planning”. You won’t know they are lacking in planning and direction until you are incapacitated or deceased. At Baker Estate Planning, we provide planning, analysis, and counsel to our clients to ensure that all of the questions are asked, and then we create customized documents that provide comprehensive and complete solutions for our clients.

1. I already have a Will so I don’t need anymore “estate planning.”

A Will is certainly important cornerstone of any estate plan, but it has limitations. For instance, a Will only takes effect once you have passed. It does not cover your wishes for incapacitation such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, or traumatic accident. Additionally, it must be entered into probate, and it only covers your probatable assets.

2. What is a probatable asset?

A probatable asset is one that passed under probate through the terms of your Will. Examples include, but are not limited to: Real property that is community property (i.e. owned by husband and wife) or joint tenancy, personal property, firearms, jewelry, stock, or a bank account titled in the decedent’s name with no named beneficiary to be paid on death.

3. What is a non-probatable asset?

A non-probatable asset is generally one with a named beneficiary. Examples include, but are not limited to: 401(k), 403(b), IRA (Roth or traditional), life insurance, joint bank account with right of survivorship or named beneficiary to be paid on death, or real property that is joint tenancy with right of survivorship.

4. I have a Living Will or Advance Directive so why would I need a Medical Power of Attorney?

Living Wills or Advance Directives (same documents, different names) cover two specific situations: 1) terminal condition from which you are expected to die within six months; and 2) an irreversible condition that you cannot care for yourself or make decisions for yourself and are expected to die without life-sustaining treatment. In those two narrowly-tailored instances, you can say whether or not you would like to have treatment discontinued. A specific Medical Power of Attorney can much more comprehensive guidance to someone who makes medical decisions for you if you cannot.

5. I filled out a Statutory Durable Power of Attorney so why would I need a different one?

The Statutory Durable Power of Attorney gives someone you trust a super blank check to conduct business on your behalf when you cannot. We call it a super blank check because you empower that person to conduct real estate transactions, banking transactions, gift tax transactions, investment transactions, and whole host of other business matters on your behalf. With a regular bank check, the person only has access to what you have in your bank account! Why not give that person some instructions as to what you want them to do while you are giving them the power to do things?

7. What do you mean a lawyer “who also does estate planning?”

If you want estate planning, utilize an attorney who focuses on estate planning. Would you have your regular doctor do your heart surgery? Not only does the attorney need a thorough knowledge of probate law, estate administration, trust, asset protection and Medicaid laws, they must also have an extensive knowledge of income tax, estate tax, gift tax, generation-skipping tax and excise tax laws. An attorney who does traffic court one day, divorce on another, business law on the third day and sues for personal injury on the fourth, will not have the experience and knowledge of the loopholes as an attorney who practices exclusively in estate planning.

Have more questions?

1 + 5 = ?