Areas of Practice
- Estate Planning – Wills, Revocable Living Trusts, Health Care Power of Attorney (Living Wills) and Durable Powers of Attorney
- Probate and Estate Administration – Full Probate Proceedings, Will Filings, Small Estates and Determination of Heirship
- Trust Administration – Trustee Duties, Accountings, Notice and Distribution Procedures
- Guardianships and Conservatorships
- Powers of Attorney – medical and financial purposes
- Individuals with Special Needs – Special Needs Trusts
- Limited Liability Companies
Estate Planning Services
The goal of estate planning is to provide for the accumulation, management and preservation of assets during your lifetime, and a plan for the distribution of your assets at the time of your passing. Additionally, proper and thorough estate planning will address the issues of disability or incapacity during lifetime. We stress this aspect of the process in every case situation. Estate planning, especially in more complicated cases, can involve the “team” approach that may involve you, your estate planning attorney, financial advisor, accountant or CPA, life insurance professional and personal banker. In cases where it is necessary, we will consult with your other advisors in order to develop comprehensive solutions.
It is critical that you establish short and long term goals for asset accumulation and preservation. Diversity in investment, insurance and proper tax planning is instrumental to provide for your financial future and security for you and your family members in the event of a disability or death.
A minimal estate plan should include a will, durable power of attorney for general purposes and a durable power of attorney for health care and health care directive. A will can name guardians for minor children, an administrator for your estate assets, percentage of distribution to your beneficiaries, as well as the age of distribution. A durable power of attorney will name an individual or entity to manage your financial and other general affairs in the event of your disability or incapacity. Durable powers attorney terminate upon your death. A durable power of attorney for health care and health care directive, also known as a “living will,” names a person or persons to make decisions concerning your health care in the event you incapacitated and unable to make those decisions yourself.
Depending upon your goals, the nature and character of your assets, the dollar amount of your estate, and a desire to avoid probate, a more extensive estate plan may be required that involves the use of trusts. The value of your estate at the time of your death determines whether or not your estate is subject to estate tax. Depending on the size of your estate, federal and state death taxes can reduce your estate by as much as 50% of its total value over any exempt amount then provided for by law. Further, without proper planning, administration and probate fees could cost your estate unnecessary expense, depending upon the circumstances. Estate planning is essential to reduce the fees and costs to your estate in order to maximize the distribution to your beneficiaries.
As you can see there are many items to consider when preparing an estate plan. Will your estate be subject to estate tax? How can you minimize taxes on “qualified” assets? Have you named beneficiaries of your assets or will those assets allow a beneficiary designation? Can you avoid probate? Is probate avoidance necessary under a given set of facts? Have you named a person or entity to administer and distribute your assets upon your death? Are your beneficiaries minors? Is there a certain age that you wish your beneficiaries to receive the assets? Can your beneficiary manage his or her financial affairs? These are a few of the questions that would be addressed and answered at a consultation in our office. There are no “standard” or “stock” answers to these questions, as many believe. We prefer to handle a person’s planning on an individualized basis, taking into account all relevant factors. The approach or solution will be different in some way, in every case.
In contacting our office for an appointment, you may request that our Client Information Worksheet be mailed to you. The Worksheet can be completed prior to a meeting so that your estate planning needs can be effectively addressed at that time. The Worksheet can also be accessed on this website by clicking on the tab located above at the left of this page. We find this to be a cost saving factor, as we wish to avoid billable office time asking essentially routine initial questions. Additionally, it is of paramount importance that we know all of the facts pertinent to your situation in order to provide you with proper advice for your personal estate.
We look forward to serving you.
“To insure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS, we are required to inform you that any U.S. federal tax advice contained in this communication (including attachments) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of 1) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or 2) promoting, marketing, or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein.”