My maternal grandmother was a pretty doggone good cook. She loved her own cooking (biscuits were here specialty - made them every day), as shown by the fact that she was about 4'10" tall and about as wide. Her name was James Scott Shropshire Miller. Yup. She went by Scott, but we called her Grandmother. Great-Grandpa apparently wanted boys. I'm not quite sure how the story goes, but as I recall it, one of her daughters (my mom, Barbara "Junior" Miller or her sister Pat), while visiting her mom in Brady, Texas, was looking through Grandmother's recipes for a favorite and noticed that there were no temperatures written down, just the instruction, "Cook till done". When asked, Grandmother said something like, "There's no way to change the temperature on the 'new' oven" (it was ancient by then), so she just stuck stuff in and when it looked done, she took it out. Apparently she was some sort of doneness savant, because she rarely burned anything. When her daughter looked at the oven, there was a temperature adjustment that worked just fine. Grandmother had just never bothered to learn to change the temperature.
How (I hear you wonder to yourself) does that relate to the practice of law? I'm glad you asked! It's a little like the adage, "When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail". In the world of estate planning, there are many ways to deal with both who gets your stuff when you die and whom you choose to be your agent in the event you're not able to handle your own affairs, either temporarily or permanently. There are the statutory forms, which are pretty flexible and which I use a lot, but there are also situations that call for more complex documents, and the attorney you choose should be able to "adjust the temperature" to your particular recipe. Likewise, your will can be a "mom and pop" affair (all to the spouse and then to the kids), or it can deal with stepkids, single people, beneficiaries who will need trustees or guardians, favored pets, your church, synagogue or favorite charity, etc.
If you're not sure about how to deal with these matters, you're not alone. Find an experienced estate planning attorney in your area and make an appointment to talk about your recipe. As always, the above is based on Texas law because I'm a Texas lawyer, and it's legal information, not legal advice.
Musings, observations, the occasional whineage and some funny stuff.