Estate planning involves the creation of a plan for handling your assets and affairs during your lifetime, during disability, and upon your death. Every adult should have an estate plan including a will, a health care directive, and a durable power of attorney. People with even modest assets should consider wealth preservation strategies, such as the use of trusts. At The Parnell Firm, we can craft an estate plan that is tailored with your specific needs and goals in mind.
The Parnell Firm provides quality representation for estate planning matters, including:
• Revocable Living Trusts
• Special Needs Trusts
• Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts
• Irrevocable Gift Trusts
• Charitable Trusts
• Pre-Marital / Post-Marital Agreements
• Durable Powers of Attorney
• Health Care Powers of Attorney and Directives
• Guardianships & Conservatorships
• Property Ownership & Transfers
• Business Succession Planning
• Prenuptial Agreements
• Certificates of Trust Existence
Below are brief descriptions of some instruments that can:
1) Ensure that your intentions and desires are carried out;
2) Assist you in avoiding the Probate Court; and
3) Maintain family privacy.
General Durable Power of Attorney
A General Durable Power of Attorney is effective during your life and after your disability. This document governs who will make financial decisions for you and on your behalf. In this document, an individual is named, your Attorney-in-Fact, and is authorized to make financial decisions on your behalf and to do almost anything financially for you that you could do for yourself. Your initial Attorney-in-Fact should be a person that you have the utmost faith and confidence in. This assists, in most scenarios, in making sure that your loved one does not have to go to the Probate Court and petition for a Conservatorship in order to manage financial accounts on your behalf during a time when you are unable to do so yourself. In most situations, having this document will ensure that your intentions are put to paper and carried out; and the avoidance of the Probate Court will save time and money.
Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare
A Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare is effective after your disability and states your intentions on medical care and treatment decisions during periods of disability. It also names an individual who will make medical decisions on your behalf if you ever become disabled, a Patient Advocate. The initial Patient Advocate named should be someone you trust. This document ensures that your wishes are carried out in various scenarios involving treatment decisions. In most cases, this will avoid the necessity of one of your loved ones going to the Probate Court to petition for a Guardianship over you. You should also considering speaking with your children who have reached the age of 18 about making sure that they have a Healthcare Power of Attorney.
A healthcare information waiver and release of privacy,or a HIPAA Waiver is a document that allows any healthcare treatment provider to discuss your medical condition with certain named individuals, usually your spouse and other successor fiduciaries. This is most important when the healthcare treatment provider needs to make a determination that you are disabled (no longer able to make and communicate informed decisions regarding medical treatment and/or your financial decisions) for one of your documents, or portions of the documents, to become effective.
Revocable Living Trust
A Revocable Living Trust (RLT) is often the main document in a comprehensive estate plan, and it is the vehicle through which the client’s assets flow during their life and at their death. Some of the benefits of a RLT are: (a) to avoid or minimize Probate Court involvement before and after your death, (b) property management before and after your death, and (c) ease of adjustment to changing circumstances.
RLT's are used to avoid or minimize Probate Court involvement in many instances. For instance, in the event that you were to become incapacitated because of age, illness, or other disability, a fully funded RLT should eliminate the need to appoint a conservator, which can be burdensome. Additionally, it ensures that upon your disability, your property is managed in the manner that you have chosen, by the individual you have chosen. Moreover, avoidance of probate is important from the stand point of privacy. If you only have a Will, it will have to be admitted to probate. Once admitted, it becomes part of public record and thus open to public scrutiny. The RLT is usually kept out of the public record, normally does not require a probate proceeding, and can be used to preserve privacy with respect to your family’s assets and general estate plan.
RLT’s also promote property management. As I previously stated, in the event that you become disabled, a RLT enables your trustee to manage your finances in accordance with your wishes. Also, after death, the RLT can serve as a effective vehicle for asset management for your spouse, children, and other beneficiaries. The RLT can be used to manage property by way of continuing trusts, for the benefit of your spouse and children, according to your directions, and after your disability or death. This can help to protect your life savings from greedy third parties.
Finally, RLTs are fully revocable and amendable. As such, the document can be infinitely modified to comport with life’s changing circumstances and tax laws. RLTs can also be an effective way to adjust to changing circumstances after your death by granting certain discretionary authority to the successor trustee. This can assist in dealing with such issues as a spendthrift child, a disabled beneficiary, and/or delayed distributions. We will discuss in more detail the other numerous provisions designed to protect you and your family’s assets well into the future.
A Memorandum to the Trust is a document that can act to modify your trust with a change in circumstances by your handwriting alone. This can alleviate the need to come into my office every time you wish to modify a personal property distribution. I will explain this further when we meet.
A Pour Over Will
A Pour-Over Last Will and Testament is a special kind of Will that ensures that your RLT is entirely funded at your death. This can be used as a fail safe document. A fully funded RLT will, in most circumstances, obviate the need to even use this document. Nevertheless, it is a key component of your overall estate plan.