Estate Planning Practice Areas
“Estate Planning” is the creation of documents that help you plan for the future. The “Plan” will include documents that empower someone of your choosing to make financial or healthcare decisions for you when you are not able. The “Plan” will also lay out the way you want your possessions distributed at your death, either through a Will or a Trust. An “Estate Plan” is not a matter of how much you have but how much control you want to keep.
The high cost of long-term care has made planning a critically important issue for most middle-class seniors and their families. In fact, most seniors will likely require some form of long-term care. Sadly, many of them are unprepared for the significant financial burdens it places on their family’s hard-earned savings. While there are significant federal and state benefit programs that were designed to assist the elderly, far too many people fail to understand how these programs function and what is required for eligibility. We work closely with our clients to ensure they have an understanding of the many legal options to protect assets and qualify for benefits that will help pay for long-term care.
Special Needs Planning
If you currently provide care for a child or loved one with special needs (such as mental or physical disabilities), you must have contemplated what may happen to him or her when you are no longer able to serve as the caretaker.
Many families believe they cannot provide for a loved one with special needs because they will lose their government benefits. If you do not leave them any assets, the benefits provided by these programs are generally limited to the bare necessities such as food, housing and clothing. As you can imagine, these limited benefits will not provide the resources that would allow your loved one to enjoy a richer quality of life. Fortunately, the government has established rules allowing assets of the individual with special needs to be held in trust, called a “Special Needs” or “Supplemental Needs” Trust without resulting in disqualification for SSI and Medicaid, as long as certain requirements are met.
When a loved one passes away, his or her estate often goes through a court-managed process called probate or estate administration where the assets of the deceased are managed and distributed. If your loved-one owned his or her assets through a well drafted and properly funded living trust, it is likely that no court-managed administration is necessary. The successor trustee administers the distribution of the deceased’s assets. The length of time needed to complete the administration of an estate depends on the size and complexity of the estate and the local rules and schedule of the probate court.