Estate Planning / Administration

As seasoned professionals in estate planning, including the handling of tax matters and estate administration, our attorneys have represented estates of all sizes, and individuals at all stages of life. We have extensive experience in developing estate plans for the unique, diverse needs and situations of our clients, as well as wealth preservation strategies. This experience includes assisting our clients in planning for the transfer of business interests and family farms, the creation of revocable and irrevocable trusts of all types, and the implementation of gifting programs that strategically employ the use of discounts in the valuation of the gifted assets.

Advanced Medical Directives

An advance medical directive is a document which allows you to nominate a person or persons who would make medical decisions for you if you are not physically able to so for yourself. This could be because you are unconscious or because of mental disability. These documents are a very important part of a complete estate plan.

Estate and Trust Administration

Every state allows for the orderly transfer of property upon someone’s death. This can occur through such legal means as probate (the administration of a person’s will), through trusts (separate legal entities which control disposition of property under certain circumstances), and through intestacy (the passing of property by law to certain heirs as defined by the state). There are important differences among all these transfers, with potential tax repercussions, which should be considered in conjunction with the needs of a particular client situation.

Estate Planning

Estate planning may be simple or quite complicated, but should be tailored to the individual. It involves consideration of the family situation, protection of assets, minimization of federal and state estate and inheritance taxes, and realization of the goals of the client. A good estate plan should include not just a will or trust, but powers of attorney, advance directives, and possibly living wills.

Living Wills

A living will is a statement by an individual of his or her wishes regarding end-of-life care. Generally it provides that a person does not wish artificial life support if in a terminal condition or late stage disease. It may also specify wishes regarding organ donation and administration of artificial food and hydration if terminal with no hope of recovery.

Powers of Attorney

There are several types of powers of attorney, but within the context of estate planning, a general durable financial power of attorney may play an important role. A person may designate who should handle his or her financial affairs if he or she is unable to do so. The power may be given so that it may be exercised when the Grantor is physically or mentally disabled. It is absolutely essential that the agent named (also called the attorney-in-fact) be trustworthy and capable.

Wills and Trusts

Will and trusts both play critical roles in estate planning. They guarantee that an individual’s property passes to those he intends to benefit. Trusts can be testamentary (contained within a will) or inter vivos (created during lifetime). A testamentary trust may be created for the benefit of minor children or for particular purposes, such as education. Inter vivos trusts may serve many purposes: avoidance of probate, protection of certain heirs, and may be used to preserve tax advantages for the family. These documents should be created with the goals of the client and family in mind.