Estate Planning, Probate & Family Law
Estate planning is an opportunity to make your wishes known to your loved ones and to choose who will carry out your instructions regarding health care, property management and disposition of assets.
If you fail to make a plan, then there may be confusion as to what your wishes might have been or who you would have preferred to act as your decision maker. If you have not declared who will receive your assets then the courts and the laws of the state will govern these decisions.
An individual estate plan should be drawn up for you by an attorney who is carrying out your instructions. Be cautious of individuals who claim to be "estate planners" who do nothing more than sell you an insurance policy or other investment from which they get a commission. Also, mass marketed living trust "vendors" that attempt to sell everyone the same trust may not suit your individual needs.
Living Trust or Will?
Last Will and Testament - Simply stated, a will is a letter of instruction to the court indicating how one's property is to be distributed. The advantages are that it is simple and inexpensive. The disadvantages are that it requires probate which can be costly and time consuming, averaging 18 months to close.
Living Trust - A living trust is a legal document which determines how the assets which you place in the trust will be managed and distributed. One advantage is that it avoids probate. This ordinarily saves money for your heirs. In addition, trust administration generally takes less time than a probate of a will. The cost of preparing this document is higher than that of a simple will and it may require some management during your lifetime, such as placement of newly acquired assets in the trust.
A comprehensive estate planning session can help you decide whether a living trust or a simple will is better for you.
Durable Power of Attorney
A durable power of attorney is a document that gives another person authority to make decisions for you. Certain types of powers of attorney allow people that you choose to make medical and financial decisions on your behalf while you are incapacitated. The alternative in many cases is an expensive procedure by which the court grants a "conservatorship,” that is, appoints a person to make these decisions for the incapacitated person.
Powers of attorney may save money by keeping private decisions regarding your health and finances out of the jurisdiction of the court. Instead, these decisions rest in the hands of the people you trust. However, one must be careful with these powers that are granted and in the selection of persons who are granted these powers in order to make sure that any potential for abuse by appointed agents is minimized.
Probate is the orderly disposition by law of your estate upon death. It is a judicial proceeding, in other words the disposition of the estate operates through the vehicle of a legal action within the court system and under court supervision.
We handle all mainstream areas of family law, including but not limited to all aspects of dissolution of marriage, to include acquisition for my clients of child and spousal support at state guidelines, property division to include sale or buy-out by one party of the marital residence, division of pension and profit sharing plans.
We Offer Expertise In: