Estate Planning: Wills & Trusts

Estate planning is the creation of a definite plan for managing your assets while you are alive and for administering and distributing them after your death.  Through the use of Wills (basic & complex), Trusts, Powers of Attorney (financial and health care), beneficiary designations for life insurance and retirement plans, family limited partnerships and limited liability companies, charitable gifting strategies, and other appropriate planning techniques we assist clients to safeguard their wealth for themselves and future generations and to minimize expenses and taxes on their estates.

With a properly drafted Last Will and Testament you can identify who will have the authority to handle the administration of your estate following your death, appoint a successor guardian for any minor or incapacitated children, and direct how your estate will be distributed following your estate whether it be outright to designated “devisees” or in trust for the benefit of designated beneficiaries.  Without a properly drafted Last Will and Testament, such matters could be determined by state law or court discretion.

Revocable and irrevocable Trusts can serve a wide variety of purposes in the formulation of an effective estate plan.  Properly funded revocable living trusts can help provide a vehicle for the management of your assets if you become incapacitated during life and for avoiding the necessity of probate following your death.  Our estate planning attorneys can give you the straight facts about the advantages and disadvantages of such trusts and available alternatives to them.  Irrevocable marital trusts and/or credit shelter trusts can be beneficial in the second-marriage situation and to help substantially reduce or eliminate estate taxes.

Having your assets remain in trust following your death to be administered and distributed by a trustee of your selection for the benefit of your beneficiaries can help protect your assets in situations where you have young, financially irresponsible, or incapacitated beneficiaries or beneficiaries with creditor problems.  It can also help you establish a family or charitable legacy benefitting future generations and charities of your selection or creation.  A wide variety of other irrevocable trusts such as irrevocable life insurance trusts, personal residence trusts, charitable remainder trusts, and grantor retained annuity trusts can help reduce the potentially devastating impact of estate and gift taxes on large estates.

In addition to planning for the administration and distribution of your assets following your death, successful estate planning also involves the development of a financial plan for the management and use of your assets during your lifetime.  This includes: planning for potential incapacity with durable powers of attorney for financial and health care decisions and the formation of revocable living trusts in appropriate situations; advice regarding the legal and tax aspects of joint ownership of property; and the potential benefit of making gifts.