How do lawyers help with wills and personal planning?

Lawyers involved with wills and estates are frequently involved with these two kinds of plans: planning wills, which are end of life planning, and personal planning, which deals with situations that might occur in the client’s life while they’re still alive.

For example, if a client were to lose their mental capacity, they would need someone to make decisions on their behalf. The questions we ask are, who do you want that person to be? Who do you trust to access your bank account to make sure bills are still being paid, to apply for medical insurance on your behalf? Often clients have a person in mind, but have not yet put the agreement in writing. This process formalizes their wishes and grants the chosen individual the legal authority they need to make such decisions. Personal planning is important because when the time to put these plans into effect arises, those assisting are prepared to step in. Having the legal documentation already in place can help relieve some stress from what is already a difficult situation.

The planning of wills is quite different. It’s a process that people rarely want to go through, because to admit that you—or someone you love—needs a will, is to admit that you will one day pass away. It’s not pleasant to think about. For many clients, the hardest part of creating a will is deciding that they want one. Once they have a will in place, clients often come back to make revisions. It’s the first step that’s difficult.

The lawyer’s role is to help clients minimize future challenges, either for themselves or for the people they leave behind. We help them understand the legal consequences of their decisions.

Both wills and personal planning can be uncomfortable subjects for clients. We want our clients to feel at ease when discussing these matters. Our goal is to provide legal advice our clients can trust while guiding them through the process of creating these documents.