Estate Planning

Estate Planning is the process of developing a strategy to manage your personal, family and business affairs in the event of your death or incapacity. Simply put, if you died or became disabled, how would you care for yourself and the persons, pets and items for which you are responsible?

Estate planning includes the preparation of legal documents (see below) and several other considerations like taxes, how your assets are owned, beneficiary designations, and how to pay for long term care. Estate planning is important regardless of your age, finances or marital status. A proper estate plan helps you retain control of your affairs, while minimizing future stress, uncertainty and family conflict.

As part of the estate planning process, our firm can discuss your wishes and provide resources to help you select a guardian for your minor children or other persons like executors, agents, trustees, or healthcare decision-makers. Our firm may prepare legal documents for you. (Link to documents below). In addition, sometimes as an attorney is discussing your estate plan with you, he or she might recommend to you that you re-title (change ownership) your house or bank accounts or some other asset. If you decide to change the title of your home for estate planning purposes, our firm may prepare the Deed.

A Will is a set of instructions that, upon death, disposes of property and names the executor. It may appoint the guardian of any minor children and it may list burial instructions.

A Trust is a legal entity to which you may transfer your assets. Assets owned by a trust are managed by a Trustee, which could be you or someone else you designate. In general, trust planning is used to protect privacy, for charitable giving, for tax planning, or when a person inheriting your estate cannot or should not receive the inheritance directly. Examples include a minor child, a person with significant special needs, or someone who will squander the inheritance, like a gambling addict. Your attorney will help you determine whether a trust is appropriate for you.

A financial POA nominates a trusted person (your "Agent") to make decisions and perform financial transactions on the signer's behalf, under specified conditions. The signer is called the "Principal". A durable Power of Attorney may give your Agent very broad powers, or it might give only limited powers to your Agent, perhaps saying that your Agent may only serve for a set period of time, or you're your Agent may only conduct one type of transaction, like selling real estate.

A Healthcare POA nominates a trusted person to make healthcare decisions if the signer cannot make or communicate his/her own medical decisions. It includes a HIPAA (medical privacy law) waiver.

A Living Will is a set of instructions describing how/when to start, stop, continue, or withhold life-sustaining medical treatment upon a determination that the patient is incompetent and either is permanently unconscious or has an end-stage medical condition.