Whether a small, large or complex estate, proper estate planning is the way to ensure that your loved ones are taken care of and maximize your assets in the event of your death. I carefully listen to clients’ wishes and develop estate strategies that meet all aspects of their estate planning objectives, while working to minimize administrative costs and tax consequences.

The Elements of Good Estate Planning

To build a solid estate plan, more is needed than just a will. Trusts can be useful to avoid probate and for managing your estate after you are gone. Medical directives allow you to appoint someone to make medical decisions on your behalf should you become unable to do so. A durable power of attorney allows you to afford someone to make financial decisions on your behalf should you become unable to do so. A complete, good estate plan should be designed to eliminate probate, reduce estate taxes and protect your assets in the event you need to move into a nursing home facility.

Wills, Trusts and Power of Attorney

A will is a legally binding document directing who will receive your assets at the time of your death. It appoints an executor to carry out your wishes. If you have minor children, it also allows you to name a guardian for your children. A will is final, and it is always best to review it regularly (every 3-5 years) and update it when needed. The most common reason to set up a trust is to avoid probate. With a revocable trust, any property in the trust passes directly to the beneficiaries. This saves both time and money. There are many types of trusts. Certain trusts can result in tax advantages, protect property from creditors and help you qualify for Medicaid. Trusts are effective whether you become incapacitated or die. A durable power of attorney allows you to appoint an individual and give that person the legal power to manage your financial affairs if you become incapacitated.

Medical Directives and Beneficiary Designations

Medical directives include a number of different documents, such as a living will or health care surrogate. A living will can instruct your health care provides to perform specific medical actions like removing life support if you are terminally ill. Health care surrogates can be broad and include instructions if you are in a less serious condition of health.
When you create an estate plan, retirement plan beneficiary designations should be named and up to date. While some plans automatically distribute assets to family members, there are some where the distribution of benefits may be controlled by state or federal law. And while some may leave it to the estate, this may have adverse tax consequences or force you to file a probate, which costs you time and money. With beneficiary designations, you can control where the money goes.

I can handle both simple and complex estate planning. I develop and implement an estate planning strategy that is tailored to your unique needs. I can also mediate and litigate disputes that arise during administration of a trust or estate. Let my experience work for you.