Basic Estate Planning

Our goal is to listen, to assist our clients to identify their goals and help them develop strategies to address their needs during life and directions after death.  We help individuals and families plan  address their need to select trusted individuals to assist them as agents when they cannot act on their own to manage assets or make health care decisions because of illness or incapacity and also help them put in place a plan to arrange how and by whom their financial affairs are managed after death.   Most of these plans include written tools such as a will or a revocable trust, power of attorney for finances and health care issues, living wills that set forth your desires or putting in place beneficiary designations and other tools to avoid probate.

Will

A will is a customized written document that indicates how and to whom your assets will be distributed after your death.  It appoints an individual or individuals who will serve as the Personal Representative to file documents with the probate court to follow the instructions.  It becomes effective only after death and may include provisions appointing a guardian for minor children, a testamentary trust to benefit a surviving spouse and descendants and addresses how a probate may be administered.

Revocable Trust

A Trust is  a written agreement between the person creating the trust and a Trustee specifying how assets are managed during life time, incapacity and after death.  It can put in place protections for the beneficiaries that may include a surviving spouse and descendants and address tax planning, special needs planning, and asset management.  Ordinary an individual creating a trust is their own Trustee and retains the right to change and modify the trust and retitles assets into the name of the trust.   After the death of the person making the trust, assets are managed by Successor Trustees for the benefit of the beneficiaries outside of the courts in the manner specified.

Durable Power of Attorney

A document that appoints an agent or attorney in fact to act in financial and business matters during your lifetime.  Sometimes the power of attorney can be used to pay bills and manage  affairs during illness and incapacity for the person signing the document who is referred to as the principal. The attorney in fact or agent must exercise his or her duties in the principal’s best interest and benefit.  Because it is so comprehensive and entrusts the agent with sweeping powers, care is taken to select only trusted individuals and to specify the extent of authority very clearly.  This is a critical document that can help an individual avoid court intervention including guardianship if they become incapacitated.

Health Care Power of Attorney and Living Will

This Health Care Power of Attorney document designates individual or individuals to make health care decisions if a person is incapable of making their own decisions because of illness or incapacity.  It is drafted to give the agent guidance regarding the principal’s wishes regarding end of life choices, medication, guardianship, and access to protected health care information.   The living will communicates a person’s wishes regarding termination of life support in the event that the person has a terminal illness with no chance of recovery, an end stage condition or is in a chronic vegetative state.