Estate and Gift Tax Planning-
We advise clients on all aspects of estate planning, from discussions about potential estate taxes (and ways to avoid them) to provisions for the management and distribution of assets upon death. These plans often involve trusts for children or grandchildren, and the selection of successor trustees to manage those trusts. The final plans are stated in a Trust Agreement or Declaration of Trust.
We prepare Advanced Health Care Directives, in which the clients nominate an agent to make health care decisions for them if they are incapacitated, and which give specific instructions on the kind of medical care they do and do not want to receive. (See the Articles section of this website.) This may well be the most important document in the entire estate plan.
We also prepare Durable Powers of Attorney that appoints an Agent to handle the clients financial affairs if they are incapacitated for a prolonged period of time.
For clients with minor children, we help them nominate guardians to take custody of and provide care and comfort for their children if both parents were to die.
The entire process involves serious decisions by the clients, helped by our input and experience. Our goal is to make this a positive experience that turns our clients' vision of the future into sound legal plans.
Probate Proceedings and Trust Administration-
The administration of a probate or trust estate is a difficult period. Not only has a loved one been lost but now the seemingly daunting task of “closing up” all of their affairs is at hand. Whether by a formal probate proceeding or the private administration of a trust, we guide our clients through the process: marshaling assets, resolving and paying all bills and claims, obtaining appraisals and valuations of all significant assets, coordinating with an accountant to be sure all taxes are determined and paid, filing any claims for exclusion from reassessment of real property taxes, and then distributing the assets according to the decedent’s wishes. The process can take anywhere from a few months to over a year, but after it is completed, the heirs are in a position to move on with these legal matters behind them.