Estate Planning Q&A

Estate Planning Q&A

August 26, 2021

Today we are joined by Jesse Maier of SW&L Attorneys for a little question and answer session concerning estate planning. Let’s get right into it.

Question: Jesse, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and SW&L Attorneys?

Answer: Thank you. My name is Jesse Maier, and I focus my career on helping folks in the areas of estate planning, probates, and guardianships at SW&L Attorneys. While rooted in the FM area, we help clients from Western North Dakota to well into Minnesota. Our firm really excels at maintaining a client-focused approach throughout our representation. I am honored to get an opportunity to work with and for so many good people.

Question: So on the topic of estate planning, what is the biggest issue you are seeing today?

Answer: The biggest issue we are still seeing is simple: People are not getting their estate planning done. Currently, 2 out of 3 Americans don’t have an estate plan in place. The unfortunate reality of estate planning is that a person has all the time in the world to get an estate plan in place until they don’t.

Question: So based on your experience, why do people struggle to get their estate planning done?

Answer: I think it’s two-fold: 1) out of sight, out of mind. Very few people wake up thinking “I wonder if I should get an estate plan done today”. It’s easy to forget about estate planning when the world has us thinking of so many other things, and 2) I think clients are nervous about the process. Perhaps a person has never worked with an attorney before or perhaps the person doesn’t want to think about becoming ill or dying. Our office absolutely understands this uneasiness. That’s why we focus on ensuring the estate planning process is as easy as possible. We do a very good job at this, and many of our clients comment on the painlessness of the process when we are done. See our client reviews here.

In its simplest form, estate planning is insurance. Estate planning ensures that you have the final word on what happens to yourself, your loved ones, and your property if you are ill or die. I think if more people treated estate planning as necessary insurance like health or auto insurance, more and more people would understand it’s something everyone should have.

Question: You have mentioned the term estate plan a few times, so what does that term actually mean?

Answer: So the term “estate planning” is an umbrella term for all the documents or plan that addresses what happens next if a person becomes sick, mentally incapacitated, or dies. Traditionally, estate planning started with having a last will and testament (what happens to a person’s minor children and their property and debts upon their death), a health care directive (who will make medical decisions for a person should the person be too ill to make decisions for themselves), and a power of attorney (who will make non-medical decisions for a person if they are unable to make decisions for themselves). Now, the level of customization of a complete estate plan depends on the needs of each client, but the three referenced documents are what I consider the minimum amount of planning a person should do.

Question: So how does a person get started getting their estate plan done?

Answer: The first step is to call or email our office. Once we have communicated with you, we will send you an estate planning intake form to complete. This form is very quick to complete and is mostly yes or no or fill-in-the-blank answers. At your convenience, we will have an initial meeting where our attorney will go through any questions you have, give recommendations as to the type of estate planning documents that would best serve you, and jump into the specifics of the documents themselves. From there it’s just a matter of drafting the plan on our end, reviewing the plan with you, and having the plan being validly signed.

Question: So with the process outlined, do you have any parting words for the readers?

Answer: I think I just want to say that I love what I do. I really enjoy having the opportunity to help people work through the intricacies of their personal or family situation and ensuring their estate plan reflects the unique attributes of each person’s situation. I would ask that people give our office a shout and allow us to explain firsthand just how painless the estate planning process will be for them.

If you need assistance with an estate plan, please contact us!