Get Your Affairs in Order with Estate Planning

Estate planning allows a person to manage and plan what should happen to their assets as they age, become unable to care for themselves, or pass suddenly. Robert Burke Law Firm is experienced in helping clients with their individual estate planning needs. We can assist you with the drafting of a will, power of attorney, trust, medicaid planning, and more.

Last Will and Testament

A last will and testament is a legal document that provides your wishes to be followed after your death. A will controls the division of your individually owned assets and appoints guardians for children. In your will an executor is nominated to manage the distribution of those assets. If you die without a will or a trust, your assets will be distributed by the law of intestacy – basically the state decides who inherits your money. A will ensures that your individually owned assets go to the individuals that you want.

Power of Attorney

A power of attorney allows you to appoint an agent to act in your place for any financial or legal transaction. A general durable power of attorney grants the agent power to act on your behalf as soon as you sign and the agent’s power continues if you are incapacitated.

You can specify that your agent only has power if you are incapacitated. The agent will then have an obligation to ensure that they represent your best interests. Should you become incapacitated and not have a power of attorney, your family would have to file a court proceeding called a Guardianship Petition. This process can cost thousands of dollars – and can be completely avoided by having a power of attorney.

Trusts

A trust is a legal entity that manages your assets during your life and after your death. It provides a means of managing your affairs if you become disabled. It allows your estate to avoid probate. It can be difficult to conceptually grasp the concept of a trust; the best way to understand a trust is to think of it as a company. The person who starts the trust is the settlor, in a business this would be the investor. The person who runs the trust is the trustee, in business this would be the CEO or president. The person who receives money from the trust is the beneficiary, in a business this would be the customer receiving services or the owners receiving money back from the company. One person can be the settlor, trustee and beneficiary of a trust. Trusts allow people to avoid probate, preserve money for their children, and in some cases protect against creditors and estate taxes, and avoid having the nursing home take your money.

Death Taxes

There are different factors that determine if you will owe any federal estate taxes after your death, including the size of your estate and how your estate plan works. At Robert Burke Law Firm, we have a variety of strategies that we can use to reduce or even eliminate these death taxes. Keep in mind you will need to plan early in order for us to implement these strategies.

Planned Giving

If you are thinking about giving to a charitable organization, we can make sure it is correctly set up in your estate plan. Your estate plan can give to a charitable organization at different stages, including while you're alive or after you have passed. Your planned giving can be set up to allow you to receive a stream of income for as long as you live, as well as earn a higher investment yield, and possibly reduce your capital gains or estate taxes.

*Disclaimer: The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters, and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.