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Estate Planning

Estate Planning: Wills, Living Wills, Powers of Attorney

Do I Really Need Estate Planning?

Have you thought about what would happen if you died without a Will? Or what would happen if you became permanently unconscious or terminally ill?

Have you made end-of-life decisions? If not, who will make medical decisions on your behalf? And how will your property be transferred to your loved ones?

These are the kinds of questions adults should think about in advance. They’re part of what we call “estate planning.” To make sure things happen the way you want them to, your estate planning should include a Will, a Living Will, and a Durable Power of Attorney.

Estate Planning Is Not Easy to Talk About.

Of course, estate planning is an uncomfortable subject to discuss, so many people avoid estate planning. But if you want to be in control of what happens to you and your property at the end of your life, now is the time to speak with an estate planning attorney and put some simple documents in place.

At Cipparone & Zaccaro,  our estate planning attorneys will create a plan that suits your specific needs. Every client has unique personal and financial circumstances, so careful thought and planning are required to make sure your final wishes are carried out and your property is transferred to your family members.

You might have a taxable estate, a small business, or a disabled beneficiary with special needs—whatever your situation,  estate planning attorneys can help you design an estate plan that meets your unique requirements.

Estate Planning Is More Than Just a Will.

Many people think of estate planning as simply creating a Will. When our estate planning attorneys first started practicing law in the 1980s, Wills were the most important document in an estate plan. Now, most of our estate planning clients use beneficiary designations and trusts to pass most of their property to their family.

Why You Need an Estate Planning Attorney

An experienced estate planning attorney is familiar with the laws of trusts and estates, and probate, as well as elder law issues related to Medicare and Medicaid. They are also familiar with the related tax laws. These laws are very precise and complicated. One slight misstep, or wrong word or phrase, and you might end up with something completely different than you intended. There are very specific requirements not only for the legal language, but for the form of the documents, the qualifications of fiduciaries (such as executors or trustees) and required witnesses. A great deal of thought and care goes into deciding not only what documents you need to accomplish your estate plan, but what language needs to be in those documents.

If you think it is safe to use forms found on the internet or in some “how to” book to prepare your estate planning documents, think again. Instead of saving a few dollars, your family members could end up paying a probate attorney substantial fees to clear up the resulting mess, and a large chunk of your estate might go to the IRS, or somewhere else you did not intend. Remember the old Fram Oil Filter TV commercial tagline “You can pay me now, or you can pay me later.” That same wisdom applies when deciding whether to hire an experienced estate planning attorney. Do it right the first time, and avoid paying for any mistakes later on.

When You Work with an Estate Planning Attorney, Here’s What You Can Expect:

  • A consultation with an estate planning attorney (usually 1 hour) to review your estate planning needs.
  • An explanation of the applicable probate and tax laws.
  • Your estate planning attorney will review strategies that save taxes and that will protect your legacy.
  • Your estate planning attorney will explain the duties of the Executor, Trustee, Health Care Representative, and Agent under Power of Attorney.
  • Your estate planning attorney will review your options for appointing a Durable Power of Attorney.
  • Your estate planning attorney will review your options for making health care and end-of-life decisions.
  • Your estate planning attorney will execute your estate planning documents in compliance with the law. (Our attorneys keep informed about state and federal tax law changes that can affect estate plans, so they can respond quickly.)
  • Your estate planning attorney will provide assistance in changing beneficiary designations and in re-titling assets.
  • Your estate planning attorney will provide answers to your questions in person, by e-mail, or by telephone.

Our estate planning attorneys are ready to help you craft an estate plan to secure your assets, minimize federal and state estate taxes, and take into consideration your family’s specific needs.

You’ll sleep better knowing you’ve made these important end-of-life decisions. Download our Estate Planning Questionnaire by clicking on the box at the top of this page and give us a call to get the conversation started.