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Wills, Trusts, Estate Planning

 

It is important to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney to draft your Will, Trust, and other end-of-life documents.  If you die without a Will, all of your possessions will be distributed according to the Intestate Statute, which may not align with your wishes and what would be best for your family. 

Failing to properly plan for your end-of-life care and probate can result in extra expenses and stress to surviving family members.  Your assets can also be subject to tax and medical liens.  Our attorneys can review your assets and help plan for the best ways to minimize taxes, nursing home liens, distribution of assets, and minimize conflicts among surviving family members. 

Each family is unique, and we can craft a tailor-made estate plan to best suit your needs.  Depending on your situation, you may need a Trust along with your Will.  You may also need a Quit Claim Deed to convey your real estate into a Trust or to create a Life Estate.  If you have a disabled child, you may need a Special Needs Trust to protect your child. 

We have experience representing families in the Probate Court, and many of our attorneys have even served as Probate Court judges.  We have seen everything, and can handle even the most contested matters. 

STANDARD DOCUMENTS

The following are standard documents that can establish your wishes and help avoid disputes after you pass away.  You should also consider nominating someone as your agent who can make health care and financial decisions for you in the event that you are unable to.  

I.          Will

A Will is a legal document which lays out how you want your assets to be distributed.  You can list who you want as beneficiaries, from family to friends to charities, and what items or proportion of the estate they should be entitled to.  If you have minor children, you also use this document to nominate a legal Guardian for them, and establish a trust for your children’s inheritance until they reach an age where they are mature enough to handle their finances. 

II.        Trust

There are many forms of Trusts, each with a specific purpose.  Trusts are legal documents which are set up to hold title to your assets while you are alive and after you pass away.  Family Trusts can help prevent your assets from having to go through probate and help to minimize estate taxes and probate fees.  A properly drafted Asset Protection Trust and corresponding Deed can protect your home from being attached by medical liens after your long-term and end-of-life care.  A Special Needs Trusts can protect disabled family members from the consequences of inheriting assets while on government assistance.  Our attorneys can discuss the intricacies of your situation, and decide if you need a Trust and draft one that is appropriate for your situation.

III.       Health Care Power of Attorney

A Health Care Power of Attorney nominates individuals to make health care decisions for you, in the event that you are unable to make these decisions yourself.  This is an essential tool for everyone to have.

IV.       Durable Power of Attorney

A Durable Power of Attorney nominates individuals to make financial and legal decisions for you.  In the event that you become incapacitated, this document can help avoid costly and lengthy Guardianship proceedings. 

V.        Living Will

A Living Will establishes your wishes regarding your end-of-life care, particularly your desires on extending your life through “artificial” means.