Estelle & Kennedy, APLC, representing the best interest of the client, aptly constructs comprehensive estate plans for its clients. Estate planning can be defined as setting up property ownership and debt payment in a way that you deem best. Estate planning allows for distribution of real and personal property to those of choice, and the appointment of someone to make financial and healthcare decisions in the event that you are unable to do so yourself. For those that have children, planning your estate may also include instructions regrading the guardianship of your children and their finances. Planning your estate in advance can minimize both probate court fees AND federal estate taxes.
Estelle & Kennedy, APLC, is a strong advocate for establishing a comprehensive estate plan for both young and old. This can include the creation of a will (legal document) and a living trust (legal document). A will allows the client to designate beneficiaries to receive specific items from his/her personal estate, and other beneficiaries to receive everything else. An individual will directs what is to be done with their property, upon their passing, may appoint a personal guardian for their children or disinherit a child, and will take care of property that is purchased or inherited shortly before passing or not placed in a trust.
Estelle & Kennedy, APLC, stresses the vital importance of having a will and/or living trust to protect personal assets and to prevent discord and additional heartache among family members and loved ones. If a person dies without a will (dying intestate), state law controls and generally distributes property to the decedent’s spouse and/or closest relatives, in a specifically designated statutory order. This often results in excessive losses and extensive time in court. If a person dies with a will (dying testate), but without a living trust, the executor of your estate will likely need to seek the assistance of the probate court to authenticate your will, appoint a permanent executor, pay your debts and taxes, identify your heirs, and receive court approval before they collect your assets and distribute them as your will specifies. Estelle & Kennedy, APLC, will provide the insight and professional skill needed to form an estate plan that is customized to meet the needs and desires of the client.
Estelle & Kennedy, APLC, strongly advises clients to form living trusts. A living trust can serve to benefit the client by effectively transferring all property into the living trust during the life of the settlor. Further, at death, the living trust will eliminate automatic court supervision concerning the distribution of assets. A living trust can provide the settlor with the tools to control his/her estate. A properly drafted trust will also provide details as to how assets, and the income earned by the trust, are to be distributed after death. Estelle & Kennedy, APLC, will also provide experienced trust attorneys who are dedicated to meeting the specific needs of clients interested in protecting their assets through a living trust, A-B trust, or spend thrift trust. If the client becomes disabled or incapacitated, the trust is in place and makes provision to manage the financial affairs of the settlor and to name a successor trustee to carryout the settlor’s intent.
Estelle & Kennedy, APLC, working collaboratively with the client, will structure the estate plan so as to manage the client’s assets upon his/her incapacitation by implementing a combination of estate planning tools such as a durable power of attorney for finances and a healthcare directive (living will). If no durable power of attorney is drafted, then your spouse, relatives or loved ones may need to initiate conservatorship proceedings. This can be complicated, expensive, and even embarrassing. Most importantly, it is not guaranteed. Your loves must ask the court to appoint a conservator, and there is no guarantee that the person appointed will be be the person of your choice. However, if you include a healthcare directive in your estate plan, you will be able to set out your wishes regarding what treatment should be administered or withheld, should you become unable to communicate those wishes. This provides you with the ability to direct doctors to provide the medical care you do or do not want to be administered.
By planning, you can maintain control over your life and help ensure that, after your passing, your wishes are protected. You will remove the additional worry off of your family and friends during a very difficult time for them and your important medical, financial and personal decisions will not be left unattended. Estelle & Kennedy, APLC, will also represent the client’s interest in court to insure the administration of the client’s estate is consistent with the will of the client.