Estate Planning 2017-10-11T13:45:18+00:00
Estate Planning

Estate Planning

Estate planning is more than just writing a will. When done correctly, organizing your assets and documents now can help avoid family conflict and legal costs in the future. Due to the complexity of the estate planning process, you deserve an attorney that understands not only the legal documentation, but also tax law, and – importantly – your family’s emotional needs.

Estate Planning Services

  • Wills
  • Powers of Attorney
  • Living Wills
  • Trusts
  • Trust Administration
  • Probate Services
  • Elder Law
Joe truly cared about my husband and I and treated us like family. He was there for us from the beginning to the end — every step of the way. He quickly returned our phone calls and made himself available when we needed him, even late at night or during the weekend. After a disappointing experience with another attorney, we were lucky to find Joe. We highly recommend Joe and we would never trust anyone else with our legal matters.
Audrey M.

Estate Planning FAQs

An estate plan is the creation of an orderly method of distribution of your assets for use and enjoyment for future generations. Many of us spend much of our lifetimes working and accumulating assets, and an effective estate plan ensures that you maximize the portion of your assets that may be enjoyed by your beneficiaries, rather than given to, or taken by, the government.
If you do not have an estate plan, your estate will go thru probate. Probate is a state-mandated process that may be expensive and time-consuming, and it takes place in the public domain. You will likely pay more in taxes, and you will almost certainly pay more to the legal system (attorneys and court costs). Additionally, you have less control over who receives your assets. In fact, court approval would be required to do even the most basic of things, such as paying your spouse an allowance, paying recurring bills, and accounting for your property. A well-executed estate plan results in more favorable results all around.
A health care power of attorney allows you to designate someone you trust to make important health-related decisions on your behalf if you become mentally or physically incapacitated. Alternatively, in the absence of this designation, you could be subject to an expensive and potentially humiliating conservatorship or guardianship proceeding pursuant to which the probate court will appoint someone to take control of your assets and personal affairs.
A health care power of attorney allows you to designate someone you trust to make important health-related decisions on your behalf if you become mentally or physically incapacitated. Alternatively, in the absence of this designation, you could be subject to an expensive and potentially humiliating conservatorship or guardianship proceeding pursuant to which the probate court will appoint someone to take control of your assets and personal affairs.
A Will is a legal document that takes effect upon your death and describes how your assets should be distributed after death. A will, however, remains subject to the probate process, a legal process that is potentially cumbersome, time-consuming, expensive, and emotionally traumatic during a family’s time of grief and vulnerability.

A Living Trust is a legal instrument that takes effect upon its creation, and that allows you to maintain control of your property now and after death, without the need for probate. Because the trust legally owns the assets, any assets placed in a properly-drafted trust avoid probate and remove any dispute about the distribution of the assets post-death. You may be the trustee during your lifetime, and upon any specified event of your choosing including, but not limited to your death, the successor trustee you have selected gains control of your assets and distributes them according to your instructions.

You are! Or you and your spouse can act as co-trustees. You retain total control over all trust assets, and then, in the event of death or physical or mental incapacitation, the successor trustee you have selected assumes control over your affairs. In the absence of a living trust, the court may appoint someone else to assume control over, and manage the distribution of many of your assets.
All of them! You may place any of your assets, including – and especially – real estate owned in other states, into your Living Trust. You will continue to own, control, recognize income and expenses, and file tax returns for all of your assets, just as you did prior to the creation of the trust.
Absolutely not! Proper estate planning is important for anyone who has any assets and/or beneficiaries. If you have any assets, children, other close relatives or friends, or a favorite charity or social club, then you should at least consider preparing an estate plan. Proper planning now will cost your estate – and your intended beneficiaries – only a fraction of the cost they will incur in the probate process. More importantly, proper planning now helps avoid many of the potential disputes and/or much of the emotional trauma that may result from a disputed will and/or an expensive, public probate process.