Fed up with complicated legal language?

“Whereas, Wherefore, Where art thou?” Did you ever wonder why lawyers use such archaic language in their legal documents? One reason is that lawyers like to stick with tried and true methods. Another reason legal documents tend to be so complex is that lawyers want to be sure to cover all the bases, so they write paragraphs full of synonyms for the same descriptive term just in case one of the synonyms has a slightly different shade of meaning to ensure that the legal document will be effective in all relevant circumstances. But is this really necessary?

The Gatesman Law Office has undertaken the task of simplifying our legal documents. However, we must exercise great care to ensure that our more simple language does not result in a document that fails to cover all the bases. After careful review, we have created a five page, easy to understand Will to accomplish sophisticated estate tax planning that replaces our more archaic fifteen page document.

While there has been a movement in the legal profession that supports the use of “plain language” documents, it does not appear to have caught on with most lawyers. We are doing our best to promote the plain language ideal to simplify matters for our clients.

Does everybody need a revocable trust?

Many of you have heard the clarion call – “You need a revocable trust!” This cry emanates from the full page newspaper ads touting the one-day seminars on revocable trusts. This cry emanates from the 60-second spots on the radio informing you that your estate plan is not complete without a living trust. Such marketing tactics might lead one to believe that everyone should use a revocable trust. But is it a good idea for you?

While revocable trusts can be good estate planning tools, they are not for everyone. Any advertisement that implies this is misleading. Indeed, by using a revocable trust, seniors can lock themselves out of a powerful asset preservation strategy. Before reviewing that strategy, however, lets take a closer look at revocable trusts.

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Power of Attorney and Advance Directive

Like the shoemaker whose children run around barefoot, there are lawyers who have no estate plan. Even more numerous are non-lawyers who have never done any estate planning. Some folks might reason that such planning is unnecessary because they don’t have vast wealth or that all of their wealth is tied up in retirement assets that will pass to their named beneficiaries. While it is true that such people may not require sophisticated estate planning, all adults would be prudent to ensure that appropriate personal and financial decisions will be made for them should they lose the ability to make such decisions themselves. There are several basic estate planning documents that enable people to appoint trusted individuals to make such decisions on their behalf.

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