ESTATE & PROBATE
Estate Planning & Probate Litigation
The Firm has extensive experience representing high net worth individuals in connection with all aspects of estate planning. Our estate planning and probate lawyers emphasize personal attention to specially tailored estate plans that consider financial, taxation, and personal matters.
We do this by assisting families in developing estate plans that protect assets and ensure orderly distribution while minimizing estate tax consequences. This includes attention to issues related to estate and gift tax planning, the disposition of assets and transfer of wealth at death, and the management and preservation of assets in the event of incapacity.
We emphasize working cooperatively with the client’s existing team of other professionals, including accountants, life insurance representatives, financial planners, and investment advisors, to achieve the client’s objectives.
Our team of attorneys is experienced in guiding and supporting executors and trustees, both individual and corporate, through the administration process. We also have assisted beneficiaries in contesting a will/trust and certain actions of executors and trustees through accountings and inventories. The Firm offers the following services:
Estate and Probate Frequently Asked Questions
Without an estate plan, you’re leaving important decisions to be made by the court based on current state laws. While there’s no law stating that you have to create an estate plan, there are many benefits of doing so. This includes but is not limited to:
- The opportunity to decide what happens to your assets upon your passing.
- Incapacity planning, which comes into play if you’re unable to manage your finances or make personal medical decisions.
- Ease the burden on your family during their time of grieving.
- Reduce taxes.
- Ensure that the right person gains guardianship of your minor children.
DIY estate planning sounds like a good idea on the surface, but there are a variety of pitfalls associated with this approach:
- You never know for sure if you’re making the right decisions.
- You don’t have an experienced estate planning attorney to lean on for guidance and advice.
- You’re more likely to make a mistake that costs you and/or your family time and money in the future.
Don’t assume that you’ll save time and money with DIY estate planning. This is a risk you shouldn’t be willing to take.
The benefits of working with an experienced estate planning attorney vary from person to person, but some of the most common include:
- A knowledgeable legal professional who can provide guidance and answer your questions.
- Someone on your side who can explain estate planning laws and how they pertain to you.
- Someone to turn to when you need to make changes to your estate plan.
There are a variety of ways to help your estate avoid probate, including the following:
- The creation of a revocable living trust.
- Joint ownership of property.
- Pay on death accounts.
- Gift giving.
By avoiding probate, you more efficiently pass your estate on to your beneficiaries.
A power of attorney is a written authorization that allows another individual to represent you and make decisions on your behalf.
For example, a financial power of attorney grants an agent to manage responsibilities such as:
- Paying your bills and taxes.
- Collecting income on your behalf.
- Managing real estate and business interests.
- Management bank, retirement, and investment accounts.
Without a power of attorney, there’s no way of knowing who will end up managing your finances if you’re incapacitated.
A living will — also known as an advance healthcare directive — allows you to specify the type of medical treatment you receive if you’re unable to communicate.
Some of the questions you can address in a living will are as follows:
- Do you want to donate your organs or body after your passing?
- What type of pain management procedures and drugs do you want to receive?
- What do you want to happen if you’re unable to breathe on your own?
- What do you want to happen if you’re unable to eat on your own?
- Do you want to include a “do not resuscitate order?”
By making these decisions while you’re in sound mind and good health, you don’t have to worry about what could happen in the future.
There are many benefits associated with the creation of a living trust, including but not limited to:
- A living trust is not subject to probate.
- A living trust is not a public document.
- A living trust can help in the event of incapacitation.
- A living trust provides you and your loved ones with peace of mind.