What happens to my property when I die? Who will take care of my children? Who would make medical decisions for me if I can’t communicate? How do I minimize estate and gift taxes? We will help you answer these questions and in doing so, put together a life and estate plan that ensures your wishes are followed and your family is spared of the burden of trying to figure out what you would have wanted.
There are many tools to create and implement your life and estate plan. Among these are:
- Will and Nomination of Guardian. In a Will, you designate what happens to your property upon your death. You appoint a personal representative, who will handle your estate. If you have minor children, you also appoint a guardian for your children (in your Will or in a separate Nomination of Guardian document).
- Revocable Living Trusts. Whereas a Will takes effect upon your death, a revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime. It is a written agreement that names a trustee to manage property in the trust for the eventual benefit of others (the beneficiaries). It also provides for management of your property should you become unable to handle your affairs. Property in the revocable living trust does not go through probate after your death.
- Beneficiary Designations. Many assets can be transferred at death without probate through beneficiary designations or transfer-on-death designations. We can help you decide when beneficiary or transfer-on-death designations are appropriate, and help you to complete the designation documents.
- Power of Attorney for Finances. In a Power of Attorney for Finances, you appoint an agent to act on your behalf. You choose which powers to give your agent and when your agent’s powers become effective (for example, when you become incompetent). A durable Power of Attorney for Finances can help you avoid the need for a court-appointed guardian over your property.
- Power of Attorney for Health Care. In a Power of Attorney for Health Care, you appoint a health care agent to make decisions about your health care should you become unable to make those decisions or to communicate your wishes. The document also allows you to express your wishes regarding life-sustaining procedures, organ donation, nursing home placement or anything else affecting your health care. A Power of Attorney for Health Care can help you avoid the need for a court-appointed guardian over your person.
- Declaration to Physicians (Living Will). This document describes which kinds of treatment you would want if you had a terminal condition or were in a persistent vegetative state.
- Special Needs Trusts. A special needs trust is designed to set aside funds for persons with disabilities who receive means-tested public benefits, such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Without such a trust, they may lose their eligibility for these benefits. We can help you incorporate a Special Needs Trust into your estate plan to protect your loved one’s public benefits.
We will help you assemble and educate you on these tools.