A well-executed estate plan helps protect your family and property in the event that something happens to you. While some people shy away from the process, estate planning can actually be a very positive and fulfilling experience. You can focus on those you care about most and take steps to ensure their future happiness and prosperity.
The overall goal of estate planning is to maximize your assets and benefits during your lifetime, provide for the management of those assets in the event you become incapacitated or disabled, and eventually, swiftly transfer your assets to your named beneficiaries after death.
Generally, there are 4 “core” documents that make up an estate plan: a Last Will and Testament, Durable Power of Attorney, a Health Care Proxy, and a Living Will. Depending on a person’s specific needs and wants, revocable and irrevocable trusts are often used as well.
- Last Will and Testament – Your will provides for the specific distribution of your property, names an executor to administer your estate pursuant to the terms you’ve set forth, and appoints a guardian for your minor children, in the event, you pass away before they reach maturity (age 18).
- Durable Power of Attorney – The POA gives another person the authority to manage your property and/or finances in your absence. It is only valid during your lifetime, and you get to determine the scope, duration, and circumstances under which it is valid. The POA is usually used when a person is unable to manage their own affairs or when they cannot be present to sign documents or execute transactions.
- Living Will –A LW outlines your decisions related to specific healthcare treatments and options. It takes effect if and when you become unable to make decisions about your healthcare due to illness or incapacity. If there is an instruction in the LW, it will be followed.
- Health Care Proxy – The HCP is complementary to the LW and someone to either: effectuate the directions you made in your LW, or make decisions about your treatment and healthcare if you cannot do so yourself, or did not execute an LW.
Life is complicated and things often change in the blink of an eye. That’s why it is so important to develop and review your estate plan as circumstances change. While working with our firm, our clients get access to a wide variety of options for long-term planning as well as knowledgeable guidance from a team of compassionate advisors who help them make sound and well-informed decisions for theirs and their family’s future.
We have also specifically tailored a prong of our practice to meet the unique needs of our elderly clients. Though elder law and estate planning are conceptually similar, the fundamental difference is that estate planning focuses on an area of the law (i.e., preserving your assets), while elder law focuses on the needs of a particular client.
We have developed a holistic Life Care Planning approach to elder law. This model seeks to create and implement a plan that combines traditional estate planning tools but also addresses questions that are often unique to the elderly, such as:
- What happens if I become disabled or otherwise cannot make important financial and healthcare decisions for myself? Who can make such a decision for me?
- Are there any special government benefits that I may qualify for?
- Where will I live if I become incapacitated and my loved ones are not able to care for me? How will I pay for this living arrangement? What happens to my personal belongings?
- How do I preserve my wealth? How do I stay social, intellectually stimulated, and happy?
Our professional team of attorneys and tax experts have over 17 years of legal experience and over 20 years of financial and tax planning experience. We understand the needs of our elderly clients and aim to preserve your independence and wealth for as long as possible. We are committed to safeguarding your investments and hard-work with our comprehensive, personalized services.