It’s Your Life, Your Loved Ones, Your Wishes.
It’s not hard to find a form for a will, online or from the least expensive lawyer in the neighborhood. But is that document right for you? Will it carry out your wishes? Will it serve the needs of the people you love?
Putting your personal affairs in order doesn’t have to be a complex process, but it should be an intelligent process. We start by asking all the right questions so that we can understand your situation, analyze your needs, and craft a set of documents that will address your concerns as completely and as clearly as possible.
There are many cookie-cutter approaches to estate planning. But every individual, couple, and family IS remarkably, strikingly unique. We make no assumptions. You might think your plans are simple – and they might be. But there might be a range of issues that you didn’t know about, questions you didn’t think or ask. We know what to ask and think about, and we’re here to help you get the best answers.
What Is Estate Planning?
Estate planning covers three major areas of law, which interact in complex ways. Each has its own vast set of rules, and each raises its own set of important questions.
Inheritance. Who will receive your property after your lifetime? Different kinds of assets require different kinds of documentation. Do you wish to make different provisions for different people? Can everyone handle the responsibility of receiving assets? Should any strings be attached? Have you considered the different circumstances that might exist when the time comes? Might your gift interfere with public benefits that a beneficiary is receiving?
Administration. How easy or difficult will it be to manage your various assets? Who will be the right person or people to get the job done while managing relations among the various interested parties? What complexities might arise due to jurisdictional issues, family relations, or the nature of your assets? And what if your affairs require administration while you’re alive but unable to handle them?
Taxation. Will estate tax apply to your estate? Gift tax? Inheritance taxes? Capital gains tax? Income tax? Transfer taxes? State, city, or federal taxes? Who must pay, and when, and from what assets? And what can we do in advance to reduce or eliminate the burden?
Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Not to worry – whatever you wish to do can usually be done, as long as we think it through carefully and write the documents thoughtfully.
We start by gathering information in a couple of questionnaires and then having an hour-long discussion to explore the issues. By the end of that first meeting, we are usually able to arrange a flat fee for the work. This enables you to know the exact price of our services and encourages you to call with questions, without concern that the meter is running.
We prepare draft documents for you within a couple of weeks, address your questions, and then proceed to a formal signing with witnesses at our office. We can do this quickly if you’re under pressure, or we can take as long as you may need to reach your decisions. And there’s nothing we love more than to take your idea for an unusual kind of plan and write a document that will make it happen.
The documents we may write for you include:
- revocable (“living”) trust
- irrevocable trust
- insurance trust
- guardianship designations
- supplemental-needs trust (a.k.a special-needs trusts)
- charitable trust
- health care proxy / living will / advance directive
- enrollment in emergency contact / health care proxy retrieval program
- power of attorney, for New York and possibly other states
- instructions for disposition of remains, including anatomical donations to medical institutions
- memorandum for disposition of tangible personal property
- beneficiary designations
- marital or domestic partner agreement
- buy-sell agreement
- disclosures and waivers for the facilitation of probate procedures