Estate Planning

Estate Planning allows an individual to provide for the disposition of his or her personal assets at death, including an ongoing protection of these assets in the case where the recipients are minors or have special needs, as well as to allow an individual to meet his or her lifetime objectives through advance planning.

The estate planning process is impacted by frequently changing federal and state laws, particularly in the areas of estate tax and inheritance laws. Accordingly, it is generally recommended that one seek out an attorney with a good solid background in estate and tax planning to create a plan that fits each client’s specific needs and complies with the federal and state laws rather than a “cookie cutter”, one-plan-fits-all approach. Your attorney is a vital part in assuring that your estate planning goals and objectives are properly set up and carried out.

To discuss your Medicaid planning issues or for assistance fashioning a Medicaid plan to fit your circumstances, please call our office today to schedule a confidential consultation with one of our elder law attorneys.

Basic Documents Used in
Estate Planning

It is recommended that everyone have an estate plan, even if your estate is small. With proper planning, you can direct the disposition of your assets to selected beneficiaries (not where state statutes dictate in the absence of estate planning documents), control when your beneficiaries will receive them (i.e., delay receipt of substantial assets to persons who have recently reached the legal age of majority – 18 years in most states), and appoint those you want to be in charge and have legal authority to carry out your wishes (not persons selected and appointed by a court). Using an experienced estate planning attorney could result in a significant reduction of court costs, probate attorney fees and tax liabilities as well as result in a streamlined process of administration at the time of death. With a planned and well-organized estate, there will be less stress on surviving family members, as most decisions will have already been made by the individual. At a minimum, estate plans should include a Will, Durable Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy. A Will sets forth a disposition plan of assets upon a person’s death as well as designates a personal representative (usually with alternates) to carry out a person’s wishes. If the individual has minor children, the Will should also designate guardians for any such children. A Durable Power of Attorney allows the principal to authorize a person (usually with alternates) to handle his or her financial affairs especially in the event of a mental or physical incapacity. Finally, a Health Care Proxy permits one to name a person (usually with alternates) to make medical decisions, including the withholding of extraordinary medical treatments in certain circumstances if so desired, if the treating physician determines the individual is incapable of making his or her own medical decisions.
Depending on the client’s circumstances, an experienced estate planning attorney may recommend more complex estate planning techniques, such as: