Areas of Practice
Our attorneys work closely with clients to understand their differing situations, needs and concerns in order to assure appropriate estate planning documents are in place. A thorough estate plan can help individuals plan for the possibility of future incapacity, avoid or minimize federal gift and estate tax liabilities, avoid unnecessary costs and delays associated with probate administration and ensure proper distribution of assets upon death.
We understand that every client is unique. We assist in developing a plan to address the particular circumstances and goals of each client. We will spend the time necessary to ensure that our clients understand the estate planning process and documents. We appreciate that estate planning is not a static endeavor and encourage periodic review to insure clients’ changing goals are met.
We work with clients to avoid the need for guardianship in the future, through the use of durable general powers of attorney and advance directives for health care. Having an estate plan in place that includes both durable general (financial) power of attorney and health care power of attorney can avoid the need for guardianship in the event of future incompetency. In order for a person to handle the financial affairs and make health care decisions for any incompetent adult, regardless of relationship, either durable powers of attorney must be in place, or a guardianship must be obtained.
When guardianships can’t be avoided, we assist families with the guardianship petition process through the Court, as well as with the preparation and filing of accountings and other reporting requirements. This process can seem overwhelming when a parent or other loved one is in need of assistance. Our attorneys are well versed in making these issues understandable and we can also provide referrals to non legal professionals that can assist families with ongoing care or placement needs.
Elder Law / Medicaid
Many families find that their aging loved ones require assistance with their daily needs in order to continue to reside at home, or that a family member is no longer able to stay home and needs to consider a higher level of care, such as assisted living or nursing home. Either scenario can create a huge financial burden.
Our attorneys help families ensure that their loved ones are well cared for, while protecting assets for a spouse remaining at home, and when possible, preserving assets for future generations. While recent changes enacted by the State and Federal government have made it more complicated for individuals to qualify for Medicaid, there are still options available to preserve assets including life care agreements, life estates, annuities, trusts and gifts. We assist clients and their families in determining what planning options are available for their particular circumstances, and offer practical advice to overcome legal hurdles in providing the best care for seniors.
Special Needs Trusts
Individuals with disabilities as well as their families need to plan carefully to ensure that the individual’s government benefits are not jeopardized by the receipt of a lump sum award or an inheritance. A special needs trust is a specifically drafted trust document designed to hold assets for the benefit of an individual with a disability while protecting his or her eligibility for public assistance benefits. The assets of the trust can be used to pay for items such as special education or equipment, home purchase or repairs, out of pocket medical and dental expenses, recreation, physical rehabilitation and vacations.
Probate / Trust Administration
Probate Administration is the court process by which assets owned by a decedent are distributed after death, either in accordance with the decedent’s will, or by the law of intestacy, which applies to individuals who die without a will. Navigating the probate court system, particularly at the time of grief, can be very difficult. Our attorneys and paralegals are experienced in handling the probate court maze and guide clients through the process. We will assist in ensuring that claims against the estate are efficiently resolved, final tax issues are addressed and assets are distributed to the proper heirs or beneficiaries.
Trust Administration is a similar administrative process; however it usually occurs without the involvement of the Probate Court. The trustee’s responsibilities include taking control of the trust assets, payment of last debts, filing tax returns, providing proper notice and accounts to beneficiaries, and managing and/or distributing the assts in accordance with the terms of the trust.
We offer expert advice to insure that probate or trust administration is handled efficiently and that the fiduciary duties of the executor or trustee are satisfied.
Licensing Defense & Risk Management
Income & Estate Tax
We provide gift, estate and fiduciary income tax advice and return preparation, as well as representation before state and federal (IRS) taxing authorities.