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Our Commitment

We are a premier estate planning law firm committed to providing our clients with high-quality legal advice and personalized service. We serve clients from all walks of life and are proud to be a LGBTQ+-friendly law firm. As estate planning attorneys, we understand the importance of creating a plan that protects your assets and ensures your wishes are followed. Schedule a consultation with us today to start planning for your future.

While every estate plan is unique, below, we've provided some information on the basic documents included in the "typical" estate plan. Please contact us for more information.

Last Will & Testament

No matter how large or small your assets are, a Will is necessary and the foundation to every estate plan. If you die without a will, state law and a probate judge make determinations on who will administer your estate, who will handle your finances, and who will be the guardian of your minor children. When you execute a Last Will and Testament, also known just as a “Will,” you decide, rather than leaving that decision to someone else who may not be familiar with your wishes.

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Trusts can have significant benefits. They help you avoid expensive probate proceedings, maintain privacy, and allow you to be more flexible with your estate plan. A trust allows you to be very specific about how, when and to whom your assets are distributed. On top of that, there are dozens of special-use trusts that could be established to meet various estate planning goals, such as charitable giving, tax reduction, and more.

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Powers of Attorney

Powers of Attorney (POAs) help you avoid long and expensive court proceedings. A POA for Finances allows someone else to have access to and manage your property. if you become incapacitated and don’t have a POA for finances, your loved ones may have difficulties taking care of your financial affairs, such as paying your bills or cashing checks written to you. Your family may be forced to petition a court to be appointed as your legal guardian in order to gain the powers they need to care for you. On the other hand, a Power of Attorney for Healthcare allows someone to make medical decisions for you when you are unable to do so. If you don’t have a Healthcare POA, your end-of-life care preferences may not be known or may not be carried out. This can place a heavy burden on your loved ones since they may be forced to make tough decisions about your care at a time when they are already emotionally drained. Also, family members may disagree with any decisions made, causing strain on family relationships. This is why POAs are essential for all estate plans.

Power of Attorney

Living Will

Not every estate plan needs a living will; but many do. A living will, sometimes known as an “advance directive” allows you to express your wishes regarding future medical treatment in the event you are unable to make decisions for yourself. We typically refer to this as ‘incapacitation,’ or when a person is unable to make medical decisions or communicate medical wishes themselves. Any number of illnesses, accidents, and conditions can cause incapacitation. Comas, strokes, and dementia are all examples. When this happens, and there isn’t someone around holding a POA, a living will is essential to your estate plan.

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Declaration of Agent for Disposition of Remains

This document allows you to appoint someone to take care of your remains following your death. This document also allows you to declare your funeral/cremation desires. This document is especially helpful when your funeral desires might not align with that of your family’s. For instance, if certain religious rites or special clothing is desired by you, but your family would not want it, this declaration gives you the right to determine which rites and clothing you would have at your funeral.

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Senior Gay Couple

Estate Planning FAQ

You have Questions, We have Answers

What are the steps in the Estate Planning Process?

Every Estate plan is unique, and the process is different for everyone. Generally, though, you will need to assess and value assets and liabilities; set goals and objectives for your estate plan; Develop the plan with your attorney; and then implement the plan.

How often should I update my estate plan?

Unless you have just experienced a significant life event (divorce, purchase or sale of a home, children or grandchildren being born, etc.) you will want to update your estate plan every 3-5 years. The law constantly changes and, especially if you have a sizable estate, you will want to make sure your estate plan is up to date.

Should I tell my family about my estate plan?

What you tell your family is up to you. Generally, you should, at a minimum, let your family know that you have an estate plan, and where they can find the documents they will need (your Will or Trust, and any Powers of Attorney and Advance Directives). After that, maintaining a healthy family dialogue is always a good thing in your estate plan.

What happens if you die without a will?

If you die without a will, it is considered an "intestate." State laws on descent and distribution will determine who receives your property by default. A state's plan often reflects the legislature's guess as to how most people would dispose of their estates and builds in protections for certain beneficiaries, particularly minor children. That plan may or may not reflect your actual wishes, and some of the built-in protections may not be necessary in a harmonious family setting. A will allows you to alter the state's default plan to suit your personal preferences.

What happens if I own property jointly?

If you own property with another person as joint tenants with right of survivorship, that is, not as tenants in common, the property will pass directly to the remaining joint tenant upon your death and will not be a part of your probate estate governed by your will. It is important to note that whether property is part of your probate estate has nothing to do with whether property is part of your taxable estate for estate tax purposes.

What is a Trust?

Trusts are legal arrangements that can provide incredible flexibility in an estate plan, thereby enabling you and your heirs to achieve a number of significant personal goals that cannot be achieved otherwise. Property is held by a trustee, which may be one or more persons or a corporate trust company or bank, for the benefit of one or more beneficiaries. The trustee then administers the trust according to the trust document(s) to achieve the goals stated in the trust.

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