Practice Area

Estate Planning

The estate planning process is not one-size-fits-all. Beyond disposition of your assets upon death. Have you considered various other vital questions? For example, who would manage your affairs if you become disabled? Who do you trust to care for your children if anything should happen to you? How do you safeguard your disabled child's Medicaid eligibility if you should leave them an inheritance? If you are leaving a substantial inheritance to a child, is there a concern about the child's ability to manage it, or a portion of it being lost if the child marries and then divorces? These and many other questions will go into fashioning the right estate plan for you.
The firm will work with you to understand your needs and objectives, your family's needs, your estate's size and unique characteristics, and—above all—your wishes.

A typical and comprehensive estate plan will entail the drafting of the following documents:

  1. Designation of Health Care Agent:
    You may authorize another person, such as a spouse, child, or friend, to be your “agent” or “proxy” to make decisions for you if you become incapable of making informed healthcare decisions for yourself. You can also specifically tell your agent what kinds of care you do and do not want. The agent will also be empowered to handle business matters relating to those decisions (e.g., signing hospital forms) and to communicate your wishes about life support, etc., and see that your wishes are carried out. Your agent will also be your advocate, so that no one will “pull a plug” without their approval.
  2. Living Will
    The Living Will works with the Designation of Health Care Agent to provide instructions and guidance to your agent when it comes to life-sustaining/end-of-life matters.
  3. Power of Attorney
    An individual uses a power of attorney to authorize a third party to manage the individual's property and financial matters. It allows a principal to delegate authority in advance to an agent in the event the principal is physically unavailable or, depending on the type of power of attorney, becomes mentally or physically incapacitated.
  4. Wills
    A will enable you to designate how your assets should be distributed after death and who should be in charge of that process. This tool works only for assets held in your name alone. It does not work for assets for which beneficiary designations, such as life insurance or jointly owned property with a right of survivorship.
  5. Trusts (Revocable or Irrevocable)
    1. Revocable Trust: A revocable living trust is established while the settlor is alive, the trustee (which can be the settlor) manages the assets, and, upon the settlor's death, the property is distributed according to the terms of the trust agreement, thus avoiding probate.
      One benefit of a revocable trust is that the settlor can change the terms of the trust. This allows greater control over when the assets are distributed to the beneficiaries.
    2. Irrevocable Trust: An irrevocable trust may not be altered, amended, or revoked by the settlor after its creation, except in limited circumstances. A settlor of an irrevocable trust typically retains no reversionary interest, and thus the assets are not included in the settlor’s estate at death. The primary purposes for creating an irrevocable trust are estate tax savings and providing management and oversight of trust property for a beneficiary who is unable to manage the property for themselves.
    3. Testamentary Trusts A testamentary trust is created under a decedent’s will. A testamentary trust may be set forth in the will in its entirety or incorporated into the will by reference.
  6. Other Tools
    1. Co-ownership Arrangements
    2. Tenants in Common
    3. Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship
    4. Tenants by the Entirety
    5. Registration in Beneficiary Form