Wills, Trusts & Powers of Attorney
Estate planning is a process that involves the creation of a plan for the management of an individual’s financial affairs and health care, during any periods of incapacity, and at the individual’s death. The typical estate plan generally consists of some combination of the following documents:
General Durable Power of Attorney - Also known as a financial power of attorney, this document allows you to appoint another person to handle your financial affairs during any periods of incapacity in which you are unable to manage your own finances.
Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care - Also known as a Patient Advocate Designation, this document allows you to give legal authority to another individual to make decisions regarding your healthcare in the event that you become incapacitated.
Last Will and Testament - This document gives direction regarding the distribution of your property at your death. However, use of a will alone without a corresponding revocable living trust will not allow your family members to avoid a costly, lengthy, and stressful probate process at your death.
Revocable Living Trust - This document functions similar to a will, allowing you to give direction regarding the distribution of your property at your death, and regarding the management of your property during any periods of incapacity. Additionally, a trust allows for continued management of assets for the benefit of minor or special needs beneficiaries, avoidance or minimization of tax liabilities, and avoidance of probate proceedings.
Long Term Care & Asset Protection Planning
Also commonly referred to as long term care planning or Medicaid planning, Elder Law is the process that is often designed to protect an individual's assets and income from the substantial costs of long term nursing care, while at the same time allowing the individual to qualify for Medicaid assistance (and other forms of government benefits). Although Medicaid assistance is available in many different forms, the common theme among the various programs is that the individual who seeks such benefits must demonstrate certain financial need and meet other non-financial criteria.
Long term care planning is highly technical and involved. The process involves: establishing legal authority to act on behalf of the individual who requires long term care through estate planning or the probate court; compiling a comprehensive inventory of the individual's assets and income, completing tasks with regard to those assets or income, submitting a Medicaid application, and working with a specialist from the Department of Health & Human Services during review of the application.
ESTATE & TRUST ADMINISTRATION
Collection, Management & Distribution of Estate or Trust
Estate and Trust Administration refers to the process of winding up a deceased individual's affairs after the individual has passed away. Additionally, trust administration can occur during periods of an individual's incapacity before their death. While both estate and trust administration involve similar tasks, Estate Administration is handled by a Personal Representative during a probate court proceeding, whereas Trust Administration is handled in private by the individual or entity the deceased individual has named as trustee.
The process of administering a deceased individual's estate or trust involves a number of tasks, such as: giving required notice to heirs and other interested parties; publishing a notice to creditors; paying the legitimate debts of the individual; preparing and filing tax returns; and locating, safeguarding, and ultimately distributing the individual's assets.
GUARDIANSHIP & CONSERVATORSHIP
Management of Health Care & Financial Affairs
Guardianship and conservatorship proceedings allow an individual to establish legal authority to act on behalf of a minor that does not have a parent or legal guardian, or an adult who has lost the ability to take care of him or herself properly. These proceedings take place in the probate court and are necessary when the proper estate planning documents have not been put in place.
While similar, guardianship and conservatorship cover different areas of need. A guardianship refers to a relationship in which a person is appointed guardian and given legal authority to make health care decisions on behalf of an incapacitated individual. A conservatorship allows a person to handle the financial affairs of an incapacitated individual through appointment as a conservator.
Formation, Operation & Succession Planning
Business Law involves the formation, operation, and succession planning for a variety of closely held business entities. Formation of a business requires an examination of the appropriate type of entity for your business, whether that is a limited liability company, corporation, or general partnership as well as completion of organization documents. After formation, there are a wide range of complex transactions that impact most businesses. Finally, a succession plan can give business owners peace of mind by establishing a plan to pass the business to future owners upon certain triggering events like death, disability, or retirement.
Leases, Purchase Agreements & Land Contracts
Real Estate law encompasses a wide range of services for landlords, tenants, buyers, and sellers of both residential and commercial real estate. Some of the more common services we provide to our clients are:
Preparation and review of leases and other documents related to the rental of real estate.
Preparation or review of purchase agreements, land contracts, deeds, and other documents related to the sale of real estate.
Negotiation of leases and sales of real estate.
Representation of sellers and buyers in real estate closings.
Representation of landlords and tenants in a variety of court proceedings such as eviction proceedings.
Representation of sellers and buyers in land contract forfeiture and foreclosure proceedings.