We work with clients to create personalized estate plans that achieve their family’s goals and needs. Estate Planning involves planning for both the handling of your affairs in the event that you become disabled and the transfer of your assets to your intended beneficiaries upon death.
- Incapacity Planning. By planning now for the management of your finances and personal needs in the event of potential incapacity, you can avoid court-supervised guardianship proceedings, which could result in an undesired individual in charge of your affairs. Our incapacity planning tools include: Financial Powers of Attorney, Health Care Powers of Attorney, and Advanced Directives, also known as “Living Wills”.
- Estate Planning. We work with clients to develop estate plans that achieve their personal goals including: minimizing probate and unwanted publicity, protecting assets from unforeseen creditors, providing for special needs of loved ones, minimizing income and transfer taxes, ensuring assets pass how and when a client wants to his or her intended beneficiaries, designating the desired individuals to act as guardians for minors or special needs family members, and appointing the desired individuals or entities to act as fiduciaries. The basic tools we use to achieve these goals include Wills, Revocable (or “Living”) Trusts, Special Needs Trusts, and Spendthrift Trusts.
- Will: Most people think of Wills when they think of estate planning. The Will is the primary dispositive document in most estate plans; It controls the passing of most of your property upon your death and is also the document you would use to nominate guardians for your minor children. Wills are flexible documents that can be used to create “testamentary trusts” for beneficiaries that take effect after you pass away. When a Will is your primary estate planning document, your estate is administered via Probate, wherein a state entity oversees the administration and distribution of your property.
- Revocable Trust: A revocable, or “living”, trust is a commonly used alternative to a Will. A revocable Trust is an entity that you create while you are alive to hold your property subject to your instructions. Upon your death, the trust (rather than the state) controls the administration of the trust assets, avoiding publicity, and often speeding up the administration process. For some individuals, trusts offer additional advantages over wills, including increased tax planning ability, and potentially smoother transitioning during incapacity. They are, however, more costly to set up.
- Spendthrift Trust: A spendthrift trust is a trust you create for the benefit of another, the assets of which are inaccessible to the creditors of that individual. Spendthrift trusts are important vehicles for inheritance when a beneficiary has financial troubles. Perhaps more commonly, they are often used when an individual wants to provide a protected nest egg for beneficiaries that will stay intact in the face of divorce and unexpected lawsuits.
- Special Needs Trust: If your loved one has special needs because of disability, you may wish to consider setting up a special needs trust for his or her benefit. A properly drafted special needs trust can provide an individual who relies on means-tested government benefits with supplemental resources for various purposes without disqualifying them from the benefits.
ESTATE AND TRUST ADMINISTRATION
We represent clients who are serving as Personal Representatives and Trustees, counseling them through the estate and/or trust administration process from start to finish. We provide the following services to our fiduciary clients, ensuring a smooth estate and/or trust administration, as the case may be:
- PROBATE: For our Personal Representative or “executor” clients, we prepare and file all required probate pleadings and forms with the relevant authorities, including, but not limited to required inventories, accountings, and reports. We assist with procuring all necessary releases and ultimately the distribution of assets to beneficiaries according to a decedent’s will.
- TRUST ADMINISTRATION: For our Trustee clients, we assist them with compliance with their fiduciary duties, applicable state and federal law, and preparation of any necessary accountings, notifications, or other reports to beneficiaries. On an as-needed basis, we also prepare any necessary releases and ultimately assist clients with the distribution of assets according to a decedent’s trust.
- TAX PREPARATION: Our experienced tax professionals prepare fiduciary income tax returns (Forms 1041) and federal or state estate tax returns (Form 706 and the state counterparts), as needed.
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