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Estate Planning Law

Many adults arrive at their attorney’s office asking for a “simple will.” But everybody has unique circumstances that require necessary evaluation and clear-headed choices. Estate law attorneys work with their clients to address those unique issues and make a plan that fits their wishes and intentions.

Effective planning will allow individuals to address their future income and assets and to develop a budget so that they can accomplish their goals. Retirement can mean increased time to travel, spend time with distant family members and friends, and recreational activities. As people plan, they should recognize when Social Security retirement benefits can be paid and how much. This can be critical to developing a budget and recognizing spending limits.

A significant component of planning is identifying surrogate decision makers by creating a Power of Attorney for Health Care (hcPOA) and a Power of Attorney for Finances and Property (fPOA). Most people will come to a time in their life when they have difficulty or are completely incapable of making effective decisions for themselves. Unfortunately, some people do not take these steps and there are distinct negative consequences. Some people are forced to go through a guardianship proceeding to have a court appoint a person to make the decisions. Sadly, others are victimized in ways that lead to loss of wealth and/or physical harm.

Planning for retirement encompasses many subjects and we will address three broad subjects that people need to consider: finances, housing, and health care. Finances are key to granting people the opportunity to enjoy their retirement. Once retired, people will live off their generally limited income and the assets they have accumulated throughout their lives. Housing becomes a consideration as people age and their ability declines. Independent living is almost always preferred. Finally, health care is an important subject that is closely related to both finances and living options. Health care will often become the most significant issue as seniors address their budget. Also, access to essential health services is important for seniors with increased needs and decreased mobility, thus, care is an important issue in finding the appropriate housing.

Planning gifts to the next generation is an important consideration as adults recognize their eventual death and look to ways to provide assets to their children, grand children and others who would foster legacy. Tax planning is key to this step to ensure that gifts most closely meet the wishes of the donor.

Estate planning is complex and requires a steady, objective view-point to help find ways to achieve objectives as watch out for obstacles.