Whether you have a modest estate or a taxable estate, advance planning cannot be ignored or delayed. We give our time generously to our clients so that we may fully understand their planning objectives. Once we hear your concerns and goals for the future, we will utilize our mastery of the law and extensive experience to preserve your estate for your enjoyment today and that of your loved ones after you are gone. One of the ways we accomplish this is through comprehensive estate planning.
Comprehensive estate planning involves bringing together the tools and strategies of estate planning, elder law, long-term care planning, asset protection, tax planning, and more into a customized, holistic plan. This approach helps our clients enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing they have a robust plan in place for whatever the future may hold.
Depending on your particular needs and goals, a properly designed and implemented estate plan can help you accomplish all of the following and more:
- Ensure that a person of your choosing, someone you trust, can make medical and financial decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated
- Give you complete control over your assets while you are alive and after you pass away
- Bequeath what you want to whom you want in the manner you want
- Protect your hard-earned assets from unforeseen creditors, including long-term care expenses
- Pass your values, work ethic, and sense of responsibility on to heirs
- Reduce income, estate, gift, and other taxes
- Keep your financial affairs and family information private
- Protect your heirs’ inheritances from future divorce, creditors, and even their own decisions if they are not yet mature enough to manage an inheritance on their own
- Manage family dynamics
- Leave an enduring legacy
- Powers of Attorney
- Health Care Proxies
- Advanced Directives
- HIPAA Authorizations
- Revocable and Irrevocable Living Trusts
- Special and Supplemental Needs Trusts
- Asset Protection Trusts
- Limited Liability Companies (LLCs)
- Charitable Trusts
- Life Insurance Trusts
- Family Limited Partnerships (FLPs)
- Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts (GRATs)
- Qualified Personal Residence Trusts
- A Complete Range of Sophisticated Estate and Tax Planning Strategies and Documents
An Introduction to Fundamental Estate Planning Tools and Strategies
Wills and Trusts
We use wills and trusts to create the most effective end of life plan for our clients. When properly designed and implemented, these documents provide asset protection during life, as well as efficient asset distribution and sophisticated estate tax planning upon death. They also may allow the estate to avoid probate. We advise clients regarding the advantages and disadvantages of different trusts and assist with funding issues. We can help you ensure that your minor or disabled children are protected in the event of your untimely death, assess the advantages of transferring assets during your lifetime or through a will or a trust, discuss the benefits of asset protection planning, evaluate your options for business succession planning, and demonstrate effective techniques to maximize the assets transferred to your heirs by reducing your estate and gift tax liability. We can even provide you with the means to appoint a caretaker for your loyal pet.
Following are some examples of the crucial documents in which we specialize:
Last Will and Testaments
When drafting last will and testaments, we take all issues into consideration including choices of personal representatives; payment methods; testamentary plans; trusts for spouses, children, and pets; and pour over provisions.
We use revocable trusts to allow our clients to avoid the probate process, provide a means for well-planned asset distribution, and ensure the proper management of assets in the event of the grantor’s incapacity.
Revocable trusts name a successor trustee who will continue to manage one’s assets in the event of permanent loss of capacity, temporary unavailability, or death of the grantor. A revocable trust may be used to retain assets for many later generations and leave a legacy from the grantor while taking advantage of all available tax benefits. The administration of a trust typically results in considerably less attorney fees then otherwise applicable probate fees.
Within the revocable trust, there are many available planning options. For example, the trust can provide for protective trusts in the event one beneficiary is an inappropriate spender or too immature to handle assets, is disabled in any way, or is going through a divorce. It also may plan for charitable gifts and specific gifts of property.
Furthermore, under New York law, the trustee must provide accountings to all beneficiaries thus ensuring loved ones are adequately informed and assets are being disbursed and handled as the creator of the trust intended.
We create irrevocable trusts to protect client assets from creditors (including Medicaid as a creditor), provide a means for asset preservation, create a vehicle to receive asset transfers, maximize tax benefits, and facilitate planning for Medicaid.
Supplemental Needs Trusts
We establish supplemental needs trusts within a last will and testament to provide financial support for a spouse or beneficiary and to enhance their quality of life while preserving their eligibility for government benefits such as Medicaid.
We assist clients in planning for incapacity by preparing durable powers of attorney. The durable power of attorney is a detailed document providing legal authority for the client’s designee to act on the client’s behalf in legal and financial matters when the client is unable physically and/or mentally to act on his or her own.
Our firm also prepares health care proxies for our clients. The health care proxy document allows clients to choose loved ones who will make vital health care decisions when they are unable to make those decisions for themselves. We take care to ensure all state and federal statutes and regulations are complied with, including HIPAA.
Instead of generic living wills that utilize medical triggers (i.e., ‘terminal illness’ or ‘persistent vegetative state’) to specify the client’s wishes regarding life sustaining treatment, we rely on quality-of-life triggers communicated by the client to confer discretion on the chosen health care agent to make the client’s end of life decisions.
To learn more about how our comprehensive, holistic approach to estate planning can benefit you and your family, contact us for a personal meeting.