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Estate Planning Services

As much as any other field of the law, and more than most, estate planning is a field in which an ounce of prevention truly is worth a pound of cure, for the simple fact that often estate planning errors may not be discovered until after death, when it is too late to correct them without significant additional expense, if they can be corrected at all.

You may be tempted to believe that, because you are not wealthy, you do not need to worry about estate planning as much as someone with millions of dollars. In many respects, however, you would be wrong.

It is true that the wealthy may need to worry more about estate taxes, and thus will rely on the use of more complex estate planning strategies. However, with regard to basic estate planning, it may be argued that those with smaller estates need to pay more attention to their estate planning than those with larger estates. After all, if the owner of a large estate makes a mistake in his or her estate planning, it may take time and money to correct, or it may reduce the amount ultimately passing to particular beneficiaries, but most likely there will still be more than enough property left afterwards to keep everyone happy. With a smaller estate, however, the cost of correcting a mistake (or worse, the cost of a post-death dispute over the estate plan) will take a proportionally larger share of the entire estate.

An individual's estate plan should be unique, based upon the particular circumstances of the individual. A well-designed estate plan should take into consideration, not only the size of the estate, but the nature and means of ownership of the assets of the estate, the individual's family structure and dynamic, the individual's estate planning goals and intended beneficiaries, and the relevant probate and tax laws. Because any or all of these factors can change from time to time, an ideal estate plan should be designed to be flexible enough to anticipate these changes and adapt accordingly.

I provide the following estate planning services:

  • A complete review of the client's current estate plan, including current wills, trusts, insurance policies, and so forth, to determine its suitability given the client's current circumstances and to suggest possible improvements;

  • Consideration and drafting of the client's will (or a codicil to an existing will if warranted) based on input from the client;
  • Consideration and drafting of either testamentary or inter vivos trusts for non-tax purposes;
  • Consideration and drafting of specialized trusts to reduce or eliminate estate and inheritance taxes, including marital and bypass trusts, qualified personal residence trusts, qualified domestic trusts, life insurance trusts, generation-skipping trusts, and charitable trusts;
  • Review of all insurance policies and other non-testamentary transfers, to ensure all aspects of the client's estate plan are integrated and not in conflict with one another, and suggestions for improvement;
  • Consideration of the feasibility and desirability of establishing an annual gifting program, and preparation of associated gift tax returns.
  • Consideration of other estate planning vehicles such as family limited partnerships, to protect the value of family owned businesses after death;
  • Drafting durable powers of attorney and other advance directives; and
  • Comparison of the client's estate plan with the estate plan of a spouse, partner, parent, or other individual, to ensure against conflicts and increase the overall benefit afforded by both plans.

  • Not every one of these estate planning strategies will be necessary or even desirable for every person. Used incorrectly, many can introduce unnecessary complexity into an estate plan, and can even cause more harm than good. Discussing all options with a qualified estate planning attorney remains the best way for a client to be assured that his or her estate is planned in the most efficient and effective way.


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