Frequently Asked Questions About Estate Planning
Get the answers from an experienced trusts, wills and probate lawyer
Kerry I. Rafanelli, Attorney at Law is an estate planning law firm serving North Kingstown, Warwick, Coventry, Cranston and East Greenwich for 30 years. Read our responses to frequently asked questions about estate planning and then contact our office to learn more about preparing a plan for the future.
- Do I need a last will and testament?
- What happens to my property if I do not have a last will?
- Is it always beneficial to avoid probate?
- What are some reasons I might form a trust?
- How can I challenge a last will without alienating my other relatives?
- What types of decisions can a power of attorney make for me?
- If I am healthy, should I still draft a living will?
- Where can I learn more about estate planning?
Learn more about preparing your estate plan from experienced Greenwich lawyer
Consult an experienced East Greenwich attorney to help you strategize an estate plan tailored to your objectives. Call Kerry I. Rafanelli, Attorney at Law or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.
You are not required to create a last will and testament, but it is a vital estate planning tool for most people. A last will and testament allows you to express your intentions and make important decisions about the distribution of your property, the executor of your estate and guardianship of your children and pets.
If you have developed other estate tools -- such as trusts and tenancies in the entirety -- your property is handled through those legal instruments. Otherwise, your assets are distributed according to intestate laws of Rhode Island that dictate who receives what portion of your overall estate.
Sometimes avoiding probate is beneficial to reduce costs, expedite distribution of assets and keep the estate contents out of the public records. In those cases, other legal instruments -- including trusts and tenancies in the entirety -- might effectively dictate how the property is distributed. However, probate is often a useful process to oversee the appropriate maintenance and distribution of assets, appoint guardians to minor children, address concerns about misappropriation and fraud, and resolve conflict between heirs.
Common reasons people form trusts include preserving bequests for minor children, funding the care of pets, maintaining property and providing ongoing support to a philanthropic organization or cause.
Probate mediation offers an effective, less contentious alternative to litigation. Mediation typically costs less, expedites resolution and encourages an atmosphere of compromise and cooperation.
You can tailor a power of attorney document to suit your needs. A general power of attorney provides an agent with the authority to make the same legal decisions you are authorized to make. You can also appoint a limited power of attorney to conduct a one-time transaction or to make decisions in one area. POAs can be drafted to handle healthcare, medical treatment, end-of-life, financial, real estate and business affairs.
A living will is an effective planning tool for the unexpected event of your sudden illness or injury. By expressing your wishes in this legal instrument, you can feel confident that your intentions will be honored regarding your medical care and end-of-life treatments. Whether you are healthy, a living will gives you control over these crucial decisions.
Call Kerry I. Rafanelli, Attorney at Law or contact us online to schedule your free consultation. We discuss every aspect of your estate plan -- including tailoring our strategy to accomplish your objectives, deciding which legal instruments to incorporate, drafting wills, forming trusts and creating power of attorney documents and living wills. We can also advise you on probate administration and dispute resolutions.