Estate Planning

Wills and Trusts

The goal of estate planning is to effectively distribute the real and personal property to an individual’s heirs. A major concern for drafters of estate plans is federal and state tax law. An estate plan aims to preserve the maximum amount of wealth possible for the intended beneficiaries and flexibility for the individual prior to death.

An estate is the total property, real and personal, owned by an individual who has died, i.e.
decedent, which is subject to distribution to the decedent’s heirs. Typically, an estate is distributed one of three ways:

(1) intestate – decedent did no estate planning and died without any will or trust,
(2) decedent executed a will prior to death; and
(3) decedent executed a trust with a pourover will.

Wills and trusts are common ways in which individuals dispose of their wealth. Trusts, unlike wills, have the benefit of avoiding probate, a lengthy and costly legal process that oversees the transfer of assets.

Estate planning is the process by which an individual or family arranges the transfer of assets in anticipation of death. Assets consist of real and personal property. Real property includes real estate, whether it is your home, investment real estate or vacant land; and tangible personal property includes everything else, for example cars, household items, and personal effects. Money, investments and bank accounts are examples of intangible personal property.


Durable Power of Attorney

In planning for death, an individual must not overlook planning for disability. Most Americans undergo some kind of disability prior to death. The Durable Power of Attorney enables an individual to empower a trusted individual and/or family member to act on his/her behalf during a disability.


Medical Documents

The Living Will provides written authority to your medical providers in “terminal” situations. The Designation of Health Care Surrogate form is utilized by medical providers in non-terminal situations, to obtain authority for a medical procedure such as surgery, blood transfusion, etc.