Estate Planning

  • Download an Estate Planning Worksheet from our website. The worksheet is not required but will help you think through the questions we will ask during the consultation. The worksheet will also prompt you to gather the full names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses for the people you want to name as your executor, trustee, guardian, power of attorney, and health care agent. Click here to download the Estate Planning Worksheet for a single person. Click here to download the Estate Planning Worksheet for a couple.

  • We will help you decide depending on the specifics of your situation, but many of our clients need a Last Will & Testament, a Revocable Living Trust, a Power of Attorney and an Advance Health Care Directive. A Last Will & Testament directs your assets to the people and causes you care about. A Revocable Living Trust dictates how your assets are distributed at your death, in essence acting like a Last Will & Testament, yet it provides increased privacy as well as more control and flexibility over your assets. A Power of Attorney authorizes another person to make financial decisions for you when you are unable to make those decisions for yourself. An Advance Health Care Directive allows you to name a person to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to make them for yourself. It also allows you to express your wishes about allowing your natural death to occur or prolonging your life by artificial or extraordinary measures in the event of a serious illness.

  • The executor of an estate is the person who manages the estate of a person who dies with a Last Will & Testament. The executor files the will for probate; collects and manages assets; pays creditors including funeral expenses, taxes, and bills; and distributes your assets to the loved ones or charitable organizations designated in the will.

  • You need to name a guardian, and perhaps a back-up guardian, to care for minor children in the event you can’t do so. This is typically done as part of your Last Will & Testament. It’s also important you set up a trust for the children, usually as part of your Last Will & Testament or sometimes in a Revocable Living Trust. The trust will allow you to specify funds for the care, education, and support of your children, but put a trustee in charge of the management and decision-making until the children are old enough to manage their own assets.

  • Partners who are not married are not each other’s next of kin. That means if one of you is sick and unable to communicate with the doctor, the next of kin is in complete control. That can be disastrous if your partner’s next of kin won’t let you participate in the decision-making. The next of kin could even bar you from seeing your partner. This can be avoided by having a power of attorney and health care directive. You don’t need to be married to have these documents and they can prevent all kinds of trouble. We handle estate planning for unmarried partners and it’s very important.

  • The idea of what constitutes a trust, and what a trust can and cannot do, are some of the most
    misunderstood concepts in the law. Perhaps that’s because trusts can be used in a variety of
    situations and are incredibly flexible and useful tools, but there’s no one size fits all approach.
    Trusts are most often established to:
    (1) provide protection for assets;
    (2) address the special needs of minor children or other beneficiaries;
    (3) make sure assets are distributed according to your wishes;
    (4) provide privacy;
    (5) manage assets;
    (6) avoid probate;
    (7) qualify for Medicaid; and/or
    (8) eliminate or reduce estate taxes.
    At your initial consultation, we can talk about your individual situation and decide if a trust is
    right for you.

  • The probate court appoints an “administrator” to represent an estate when a person has died
    without a last will and testament This is often referred to as “intestacy”, meaning the person died
    without a will.

    When there is a last will and testament, the will often nominates a person (or persons) to serve as
    the “executor” to represent the estate. The probate court can accept the nomination and appoint
    that person so serve as the executor or, if there is good cause to do so, can appoint someone else.

  • Both administrators and executors are “personal representatives” of an estate. As such, they
    have a fiduciary duty to act only in the best interest of the heirs or beneficiaries of the estate, and
    to pay legitimate creditors of the estate. The responsibilities include collecting and preserving all
    of the assets of the estate, notifying potential creditors, paying legitimate creditors of the estate,
    and distributing the assets to the heirs if there is no last will and testament, or to the beneficiaries
    named in the will. The personal representative may also be required to post a surety bond with
    the probate court, and make reports to the court. The personal representative may or may not
    have the authority to sell assets of the estate, depending on the power granted by the court. The
    personal representative almost always has a duty to provide the heirs or beneficiaries with reports
    about estate assets and liabilities.

Probate

  • Call us to see if we can help. If your loved one is competent to sign legal papers, we can prepare the necessary documents. If your loved one is not competent, it may be necessary to petition the probate court for the appointment of a guardian and/or conservator. A conservator is a person who is court-appointed to handle the personal financial business of an incompetent ward, such as paying bills and managing money. A guardian is a person who is court-appointed to handle the personal care of an incompetent ward, such as making health care decisions or choices about where to live. It’s sometimes not necessary to appoint a guardian if the incompetent ward’s next of kin is available to make health care decisions. The next of kin is the spouse, children, parents or siblings (in that order) of the incompetent ward.

    • Filing the Will for the Estate with the Probate Court and Petitioning to Probate the Will in Solemn Form
    • Contacting Creditors, Banks, and Government Agencies of the Decedent’s Death
    • Setting up an Estate Bank Account for all Transactions to Close the Estate
    • Filing an Inventory of the Estate’s Assets and Payments with the Probate Court
    • Distribution of the Estate to Heirs or Beneficiaries
    • Paying the Estates’ Debts and Taxes
  • As an administrator, you are the personal representative of a decedent’s estate. Your responsibilities include collecting and assessing all of the assets of the estate, paying the creditors of the estate, and distributing the assets to heirs and beneficiaries.

  • There are several factors that play into how long it would take to administer an estate. Through the three phases of probate (i.e. Appointment, Administration, and Distribution & Discharge), this process could take between 9 months to 18+ months. While this may be daunting, our firm is committed to streamlining this process for all of our clients with consistent and transparent legal practices.

Business Succession / Business Planning

  • An operating agreement is designed to be a contract that outlines the duties and responsibilities of members and managers of a company. This document provides protections for all of the parties involved in the business as well as acts as a governing document for business functionality.