MY ESTATE PLANNING AND PROBATE PRACTICE
Everyone engages in estate planning, whether or not you take on an active role, but, if you don’t, you allow the government – – your local jurisdiction and the IRS – – to dictate the results for you.
In my practice, we focus upon your goals as you decide who should get what and when, and coordinate pay-outs from the various sources of funds such as investment accounts, business proceeds, real estate and retirement plans. We also check the titles and beneficiary designations, to ensure the proper results. It’s an orderly process and, once accomplished, future updating will be relatively straightforward. Other integral elements are planning for possible incapacity and identifying basic financial information and contact persons, so that helpers can immediately get to the critical tasks.
Estate planning is a good idea for people who have had time to put together some assets, typically savings and investments, retirement accounts and home equity. Other holdings to plan for are rental properties, large life-insurance policies, business interests, art and other collections, anticipated inheritances, trusts and divorce settlements.
A contemplated transition to retirement or a part-time employment or consulting position, home down-sizing, moving to a new location, volunteering versus paid activities, or an upcoming remarriage with a blended family, all present new financial and tax considerations, and call for updated or new documents. Divorce almost always warrants a thorough review, adjustment of prior planning and new Wills.
Young people in junior-level jobs are also good estate-planning candidates. They may have only a small bank account, a car and maybe a condo with little equity, but they probably also have life insurance, a retirement package and other benefits through work, perhaps an interest in a family enterprise (or not even know that their parents are making gifts to them) or a trust or potential inheritance. Parents may urge their young adult children to do some planning in order to protect the parents’ legacy for their children and future grandchildren.
Couples, whether or not married, have special considerations, including tax aspects. Children entail responsibility for their future if the parents are absent. Single people have an opportunity to direct their assets and entrust their medical decisions to persons and organizations meaningful to
them, not automatically the closest relative. Anyone with relatives or friends with special needs may assist financially in their care without jeopardizing the recipients’ available government benefits and programs.
For all of these Clients, the goals are to adopt a plan that will work well now and in the foreseeable future, and to minimize costs and burdens of administration and taxes. In assisting with probate and the administration of estates and trusts, I seek to keep costs down and help the survivors through the processes. If there is a contentious situation, I look to the principles of collaborative practice to achieve reasonable and satisfying outcomes without litigation.