Our Estate Planning Attorneys are skilled at creating a wide variety of Estate Planning Tools. Here are some of the things that your personalized Estate Plan can include.
We can create a Special Needs Trust to provide for the care of a family member with permanent disabilities or special needs. This form of trust can keep the assets included in the trust out of Probate. It can also protect the trust beneficiary’s right to government benefits and may protect the assets from the claims of creditors.
Our Estate Planning Attorneys can also create a Testamentary Trust that is to be included in your Will. This type of trust becomes effective when you die. These trusts are often used to hold property in trust for minor children until they reach an age designated by you or until the occurrence of a planned (or unplanned) event. These events may include such things as a college graduation or the occurrence of medical expenses related to an unanticipated illness or injury.
If you wish, we can create a Charitable Trust or a Charitable Remainder Trust, which allows you to leave money and other assets to a charity at the time of your death. With the proper trust, you may also be able to use the assets or income from the trust during your life. After you die, the remainder of those assets (the ones that are left over) will go to the charity chosen by you. These trusts may also provide tax benefits.
Powers of Attorney
Powers of Attorney (POA) give someone the right to act on your behalf. Financial Powers of Attorney and Health Care Powers of Attorney (also known as Health Care Proxies) give another person the power to make financial and health care decisions for you. Our Estate Planning Lawyers can draft one or both of these documents, which will be tailored to fit your specific needs.
All POAs require advanced planning. They must be signed while you are still legally competent to enter into a valid contract.
If you wish, we can design a Power of Attorney to become effective while you are still able to make your own decisions. In this case, you may choose to have the POA become effective the moment it is signed or at a future time stated in the document. We can also create a Durable Power of Attorney, which will continue to be effective even after you become unable to handle your own affairs.
If you prefer, we can also create a Power of Attorney that does not go into effect until you are unable to manage your own affairs. This type of POA may contain a clause stating that the power will not go into effect until after a doctor has certified that you are no longer able to handle your own health care or financial matters. This type of POA is often called a “springing POA.”
We can also prepare a Living Will, often referred to an “advanced directive” which will provide your family and physician with specific instructions about the medical care you desire in the event that you are unable to communicate your wishes.
Guardianships and Conservatorships
After a person becomes legally incapacitated, the incapacitated person can no longer sign a valid Power of Attorney. Under these circumstances, court approval is required to give someone the power to handle the person’s financial affairs and to assist with their medical decisions. If one of your family members is no longer legally capable to sign a Power of Attorney, we can arrange to have a Conservator or Guardian appointed to manage that person’s financial, health care, and personal matters.
Tools to Minimize Taxes
Our Estate Planning Lawyers can also help you reduce your tax burden. There are many ways this can be accomplished. We can often create a plan that will fit with your financial and family situations and your stage of life.
We can draft a Will that will provide for your family and fulfill your personal needs and wishes. Your Will can include Trusts designed to meet your goals. It can also provide for guardians of minor children or of adults who cannot care for themselves.
The preparation of a Will is extremely important. If you die without a valid Will, the state will determine to whom your Estate is distributed and the percentage of the Estate assets received by each recipient. This often leads to unintended and undesirable consequences.
Keeping Assets out of Probate
Estate Planning Lawyers can also help you keep some or most of your property (assets) out of your estate—and out of probate. Keeping property from being included in your probate estate can have a number of significant benefits. In many instances, keeping some or all of your assets out of probate can benefit your heirs. But there may also be certain risks that your estate planning attorney will discuss with you.
An experienced Estate Planning Lawyer at Heiligman & Mogul, P.C., can assess your family and financial situations and help you decide on the best course of action for you. If appropriate for you, we can help you to create trusts or change the ownership (titling) of certain accounts or property to best fulfill your needs.