Estate planning involves more than determining who will inherit from you after your death. With the right plan and a reputable attorney to put it together, it can protect your assets and prepare you for whatever the future holds. A robust estate plan prepares for emergencies, expresses your wishes, and can help avoid family disputes later on. So, how do you get one?
If you need help with estate planning in Danbury, Newtown, or anywhere else in Fairfield County, CT, turn to Amoruso & Amoruso LLP. Our law firm’s signature comprehensive estate planning service goes beyond the basics and provides a plan that prepares for all of life’s contingencies.
Firm founder Michael J. Amoruso creates personalized estate plans based on your unique needs and goals. With nearly three decades of experience in estate planning, elder law, and long-term care planning, he will identify the nuances of your situation to develop a custom plan to address them.
If you already have an estate plan, allow Amoruso & Amoruso LLP to give it a thorough review. Michael J. Amoruso will identify any areas that could use revisions or corrections and advise you on options for making it better based on your individual goals. Be assured that, if no changes are needed, he will tell you and you will have the peace of mind that your plan accomplishes your objectives.
Connecticut residents rely on Amoruso & Amoruso LLP to develop a strategy to protect their hard-earned wealth, provide for them in their golden years, and look out for loved ones if they become incapacitated or die. Contact us today to learn how a Fairfield County estate planning lawyer from our firm can help.
What’s the Importance of Having an Estate Plan?
You might consider estate planning something only the wealthy or older adults do. But think again — everyone, including you, can benefit from having an estate plan.
First, if you have property or money to leave behind, an estate plan ensures that your assets go to the people or organizations you want. Estate planning also allows you to protect your minor children if the unthinkable happens and you become incapacitated or die. You can protect their inheritance until they are mature enough to manage it themselves and nominate someone to care for them until they grow up.
Finally, an estate plan can help your family avoid disagreements over what happens to you and your property. Your estate plan allows you to communicate your preferences, which can keep your affairs out of court and family relationships intact.
What Is Comprehensive Estate Planning?
Comprehensive estate planning is a holistic, proactive approach to meet your long-term legal and financial needs. A comprehensive estate plan can prepare you to obtain long-term care as you age or if you become incapacitated. If you have loved ones you need to care for, you can set up trusts to provide for them and keep them qualified for important government benefits. Through long-term financial planning, tax planning, and a range of other legal documents and structures, a comprehensive estate plan from Amoruso & Amoruso LLP can protect your wealth, outline your end-of-life wishes, account for potential incapacity, and ensure your assets transfer smoothly to beneficiaries.
What Makes Up Comprehensive Estate Planning?
Comprehensive estate planning uses many tools and strategies to address your needs and goals. Aspects of comprehensive estate planning may include the following:
Elder Law/Long-Term Care Planning
Long-term care planning focuses on ensuring you have enough resources to cover the costs of long-term or nursing home care as you age. Planning goals may include establishing your eligibility for Medicaid or other means-tested government benefits.
A will allows you to appoint someone to manage your estate and distribute your assets after your death. You can provide instructions to ensure your wishes are fulfilled. If you have young children, you can name who you want to care for them when you no longer can.
Estate planning uses trusts to protect and preserve the value of your assets and to distribute inheritances. In a trust, a trustee holds and manages assets for your beneficiaries according to the trust document’s terms.
A living trust is a type of trust that becomes effective during your lifetime. Living trusts allow you to direct the distribution of your assets after your death while continuing to use and enjoy your property during your life.
Estate/Gift/Income Tax Planning
Estate planning aims to preserve the value of assets passed on to your loved ones, so a comprehensive estate plan must account for taxes. Effective planning can reduce your income, estate, and inheritance tax liabilities.
The financial planning aspect of estate planning involves analyzing your current finances, identifying future expenditures, and developing a wealth preservation strategy.
A comprehensive estate plan should also incorporate your retirement goals, including ensuring you have income and other financial resources after you stop working.
You might rely on Medicaid benefits for long-term care or nursing home costs. Medicaid planning ensures you meet strict criteria to qualify for benefits without depleting your assets.
Planning to Leave Assets to Loved Ones in a Way That Protects the Assets
Depending on your loved ones’ circumstances, you may have concerns about what could happen to the assets you leave to them. Estate planning can help you protect beneficiaries’ inheritances through tailored strategies that match their situations.
Assets from Divorce, Creditors, Spendthrifts, and Substance Abuse
You may want to leave an inheritance to a family member facing divorce, debt, or other personal difficulties. If so, estate planning tools can protect the assets you leave behind. For example, spendthrift trusts can shield a loved one’s inheritance while allowing them to enjoy a manageable income stream.
Business Succession Planning
If you own a Fairfield County business, succession planning can help ensure your company’s continued success after your retirement or death. Through a business succession plan, you can designate who will take over for you and ensure a smooth management transition.
Special Needs Planning
Families with a loved one with special needs can use estate planning to protect their financial interests and maintain their eligibility for crucial governmental benefits. Commonly used special needs planning tools in Connecticut include:
- Supplemental Needs Trusts – This is a specific type of trust designed to use third-party or inherited dollars to enhance the quality of life for a beneficiary, over and above any government benefits. These funds do not count toward a beneficiary’s resource limits for government programs, allowing them to remain eligible for these benefits.
- Special Needs Trusts – This is a specific type of trust designed to use an individual’s own assets to enhance his/her life. The assets held in these trusts do not count toward a beneficiary’s resource limits for government programs, allowing them to remain eligible for these benefits.
- Supported Decision-Making – People with special needs can maintain independence and control over their lives through supported decision-making. In this arrangement, a team of advisors assists the individual with making legal, financial, or medical decisions.
- Conservatorship – In Connecticut, the court can appoint a conservator to make decisions on behalf of a person with intellectual or cognitive disabilities.
You can also protect the wealth you want to pass on to your family by supporting causes you care about. Charitable gifting can provide tax advantages while allowing you to make an impact on organizations that matter to you.
What Are Other Elements of a Successful Estate Plan?
Other elements of a comprehensive estate plan can include the following:
- Advance Directives – Advance directives are legal documents such as a health care proxy, a power of attorney, and a disposition of remains. A Health Care Proxy appoints someone you choose to make medical decisions (including end-of-life decisions) for you. A Power of Attorney will allow a trusted family member or friend to handle your financial and/or legal matters. This can be helpful if you face an illness or injury or you lack mental capacity. With life care planning, your family has the guidance and tools necessary to make financial and health care decisions when you cannot do so.
- Conservatorship – In an estate plan, you can name a person (or people) to serve as your conservator if you can no longer care for yourself.
- Probate, Estate, and Trust Administration – Estate planning requires you to select individuals to manage your estate and trusts. Many people choose family members to administer their estates. But you may want to consider legal or financial professionals to serve as trustees if you have complex assets to manage.
How Much Does an Estate Plan Cost in Fairfield County?
The cost of preparing a comprehensive estate plan depends on the complexity of your estate and the estate planning tools you choose. However, estate planning can pay for itself by minimizing your family’s tax liabilities, preserving the value of your estate, or bypassing the need for full probate. Furthermore, it provides peace of mind knowing that you’ve prepared for the future and protected your family’s interests.
How Can a Fairfield County, CT, Estate Planning Attorney Help?
Estate planning is complicated. While DIY options like wills are available online, these tools are unlikely to best serve your interests in the long haul. A Fairfield County, CT, estate planning attorney from Amoruso & Amoruso LLP can assemble a forward-facing, holistic plan that looks out for your interests and your family’s well-being.
Our estate planning lawyer will:
- Identify and inventory your assets
- Draft and update your will
- Recommend various types of trusts to protect your assets
- Develop business succession plans
- Ensure vulnerable loved ones are cared for through conservatorships, special needs trusts, or supported decision-making arrangements
- Minimize tax liabilities to maximize what your beneficiaries inherit
- Prepare advance directives
- Assist with Medicaid planning
- Recommend a charitable giving strategy
- Review potential elder care needs
- Provide periodic reviews of your estate plan to account for changes in your family circumstances
Contact an Experienced Estate Planning Lawyer in Fairfield County, CT, Today
When you decide to plan for your family’s future, getting advice from the right estate planning lawyer can make all the difference. Put Amoruso & Amoruso LLP to work for you. Residents in Danbury, Newtown, and the rest of Fairfield County can vouch for our skill at developing comprehensive estate plans that withstand the test of time.
Whether you need help developing an estate plan or just want a fresh set of eyes to review your current one, Michael J. Amoruso can help. Contact us today to speak with an experienced estate planning lawyer in Fairfield County, CT.