Our firm handles all aspects of estate planning from drafting a Last Will and Testament, Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy, to the more complicated issues that may require the formation of revocable or irrevocable trusts. Let our experienced team help you in any of the following areas:
Last Will & Testament
Your Will operates to transfer the things that you own at the time of your death. This includes directing where your assets will be distributed, after the payment of things such as funeral expenses, administrative expenses of your estate, taxes, debt and liabilities. In addition, there are many other directives that can be carried out through your Will, such as appointing a Guardian of the Person for minor children, establishing trusts and naming trustees to manage your minor children’s finances, and dictating burial wishes and ceremonial wishes. You will also nominate an Executor, who will be the person you choose to carry out all of these wishes and handle your affairs after your death.
health care proxies
A Health Care Proxy is a document that allows you to appoint another person as an “agent” to make medical decisions for you in the event that you lose your capacity to make such decisions. You can only have one agent appointed at any one time, although you may name alternates in the event that your primary agent cannot or will not serve.It is recommended that a HIPPA Authorization is included in your Health Care Proxy document so that medical providers can disclose information to your agent to help your agent make informed decisions about your care. Naming an agent to act on your behalf in a medical emergency is an important tool so that you know who will be making these decisions on your behalf, and eliminate any uncertainty among family and loved ones in such an event.
A Living Will is a document in which you direct future healthcare decisions on your behalf, specifically in regards to withholding or the withdrawing of life-sustaining treatment that prolongs the process of dying. Living Wills are often called Advance Directives, because you are making specific decisions in advance, anticipating a future medical condition. Putting a Living Will in place can alleviate your Health Care Agent from having to make decisions without the benefit of knowing what your wishes might have been, since you’ve made the advance directive of what you want done under these specific circumstances. With this in place, your wishes will be effectuated, and those you love will not have to make an often agonizing decision, instead your specific wishes will be carried out.
Powers of attorney
A Power of Attorney is a document that allows you to appoint an “agent” to manage a broad range of your affairs. By appointing an agent to act on your behalf, you delegate legal authority on another to make property, financial and other legal decisions for you. Too often families attempt to obtain a Power of Attorney for a loved one because they cannot get banks, health insurance companies, and creditors to speak with them or give them information, only to find that their loved one cannot execute a Power of Attorney at that juncture because they are incapacitated. Without a Power of Attorney, the family is left to seek a guardianship through the court system, which can be time consuming and costly.
Trusts serve many different purposes, including protecting one’s assets from creditors, minimizing tax liability upon death, ensuring that beneficiaries do not spend the full amount of their gifts at one time, maximizing charitable gifts, and providing for disabled individuals without disqualifying them from receiving government benefits. A trust is a legal document that creates a relationship between the creator (often referred to as the “creator” or “grantor”) of the trust and a third party, known as the trustee, in order to give the trustee the power to hold, invest, and distribute the grantor’s property for the benefit of one or more beneficiaries. The grantor may be their own trustee in certain types of trusts, and the beneficiary may be the grantor or any other individual or an entity like a not-for-profit organization.
Trusts typically used as an estate planning tool include:
Revocable Living Trusts
Irrevocable Living Trusts
Supplemental Needs Trusts (SNT's), often referred to as Special Needs Trusts
Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts (ILIT's)