Probate and Estate Planning
Estate planning includes a variety of vehicles to respond to different concerns.
- Last Will and Testament. The first and most basic estate planning tool is your Will. A Will gives you the right to determine who will receive your assets after your death. By exercising your privilege of making a Will, you can select the personal representative of your estate – your Executor – who will administer your Will and distribute your assets according to your wishes. You can use your Will to name a guardian for your minor children or direct that beneficiaries who are young will not receive their inheritance until they are experienced enough to handle the money.
- Living Will and Durable Health Care Power of Attorney. A Living Will and Durable Health Care Power of Attorney can protect you and your family when it comes to making difficult decisions about medical care.
The person you nominate to act on your behalf will be able to communicate your wishes to doctors and hospitals.
- Financial Power of Attorney. A General Financial Power of Attorney can be a useful tool to ensure continuity in your affairs if you are unable to tend to them yourself. The instrument is not subject to court approval or rejection, and can only be challenged under limited circumstances. It allows another person to step in and make decisions about your financial and personal affairs.
- Trusts. Revocable and Irrevocable Trusts are very specific estate planning tools that can be used to provide long-term assistance to a loved one or group of loved ones, and can work with your tax advisers to minimize estate and death taxes. Our attorneys can help you determine when a trust is your best option.
- Miller Trusts and Special Needs Trusts. Our attorneys know when to incorporate protective clauses for minors, children with special needs, and incompetent persons. A Miller Trust can ensure that a recipient of Federal assistance such as Title XIX (Medicaid) can retain their benefits, even if their income is slightly over the allowable level to receive aid. A Special Needs Trust helps provide for a disabled individual while allowing them to still receive benefits.
- Guardianship and Conservatorship. Elder care is a growing concern for many families, and our firm can assist you in making difficult decisions. A guardianship is a court-supervised process that will allow a person to care for a minor or an incompetent individual; a conservatorship allows access to that individual’s money for continued care.
- Gifts. Gifts can be a useful tool to dispose of your estate during your lifetime, reducing inheritance or estate taxes and assuring that the intended beneficiary receives your assets. We can also work with your tax adviser and offer strategies on how to minimize gift tax liability.
- Probate. Probate is the process of court-supervised administration of a decedent’s estate. Proper estate administration ensures that a person’s debts are paid and that assets are distributed according to the decedent’s wishes. Our attorneys can supply you with strategies to avoid probate, but we can also ensure that the administration is done in a timely and competent fashion.