Q: I already have a will, isn’t that enough?

A will only controls assets that are titled in your name alone. It does not control jointly owned property, life insurance policies, or retirement accounts. A will cannot help if you become mentally disabled. Finally, a will must go through a legal process called probate in which a court proceeding is used to carry out the instructions in a Last Will and Testament. Probate is costly, time consuming, and public.

Q: What happens when a person dies without a will, but leaves property in their name?

The probate court follows the state law which decides who gets what.

Q: What if my partner and I aren’t married?

While planning their estates, same-sex and unwed couples have additional considerations to bear in mind when compared with married couples, and they really need to have several legal documents in place in order to insure that their wishes are carried out. Estate planning is a complex and highly specialized area of law with many potential pitfalls, and understanding and avoiding these mistakes will help to ensure that you and your partner’s wishes are fulfilled. Working with an experienced estate planning firm will help you and your partner achieve your estate planning goals.