Estate planning may include:
Wills with trust provisions
Revocable Living Trusts
Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts ("ILIT")
Supplemental and Special Needs Trusts
Quit Claim Deeds, Transfer on Death Deeds
Health Care Directives
Powers of Attorney
Antenuptial /Pre-nuptial Agreements
Elder Law is an area that involves both the financial and the personal aspects of aging. Sometimes a family member loses cognition suddenly, but more often this occurs gradually. Ethically, morally and legally, the elder's informed and reasoned choices should be honored and followed. However, when a person makes clearly bad choices, some intervention is needed. Has the elder sent money to phone, mail or email scammers? Or have they been driving a car unsafely? Are they taking medication correctly?
We look for answers that protect the individual with the least interference with their free will and integrity.
Guardianship is a court procedure to appoint someone to protect a vulnerable person. We use the term Conservator for someone who is appointed to manage a vulnerable person's property. If a person has signed a Power of Attorney and a Health Care Directive, and if the family is not in conflict, the persons named in those documents can usually make decisions for the person and the property, without need for the court appointment of a Guardian or Conservator.
Probate is a process for distributing property after someone dies. Probate is not normally needed for assets that are jointly owned or payable to another person upon death.
There are several different probate procedures - informal, formal, supervised, unsupervised, summary, and descent by decree. Statutes and court rules might require a specific procedure for a case. Sometimes the family has a choice of procedures.
Estate planning requires listening to a client's concerns and wishes, evaluating and presenting options to the client and then completing documents, and instructions which carry out the clients' wishes. The planning may involve preparation of Wills, Powers of Attorney, Health Care Directives, various kinds of Trusts, Transfer on Death Deeds, Quit Claim Deeds, or other documents.