Planning for death and what happens after you or your loved ones die can be an uncomfortable or sad topic to contemplate, but the difficulty of planning and preparation now is often far less than the difficulty and pain of not having addressed these issues in advance. Our firm understands the complexity and challenges of estate planning and the difficulties involved, and we approach it with a high level of humanity and care, offering our advice to ensure that your estate plan carries out your wishes for the people you leave behind and the charities you may choose to provide for, and is as easy to administer as possible. We understand that not every client has the same wants and needs, and so our advice is tailored to each client’s individual circumstances. While we certainly appreciate that complexity in an estate plan is sometimes a necessity it is our philosophy that keeping it as simple as possible is often the best plan.
Our estate planning advice encompasses a broad range of options. We can help you plan for the transfer of everything from your possessions such as art and furniture, to cash and brokerage accounts, retirement plans to real property and business interests.
Sometimes called a revocable living trust or inter-vivos trust, a lifetime trust is a highly effective and flexible legal framework through which your assets can be managed during your life and after your death. Whether a lifetime trust is right for you depends on many factors, and we work with our clients to understand their circumstances and their plans to determine if a lifetime trust will serve their needs.
Wills and Testamentary Trusts
A will is the most common method for ensuring your assets pass quickly and directly to your beneficiaries, though they can also serve as an instrument to manage your assets well after your death by including what is known as a testamentary trust. A will is necessary for the orderly and efficient transfer of your assets after your death. Whether a testamentary trust, which is a trust created by your last will and testament, is right for you depends on many factors and, much like a lifetime trust, is a topic that requires careful thought and discussion.
Wills and lifetime and testamentary trusts are powerful and effective tools in making sure your assets provide the greatest benefit to those you leave behind, but there are other important decisions to be made. During your life you may face circumstances that make it difficult for you to live and function independently and to manage your responsibilities. Advance directives allow you to mitigate some of the challenges that may arise in those circumstances. We work with our clients to make sure that they receive the medical care they want, and just as importantly, the medical care they do not want. We also make sure that arrangements are made for someone to manage your property and to care for your person. For those with children, we can help you determine who a court will appoint as a guardian for your children in the worst of circumstances.
Probate, Estate Administration and Settlement
We represent executors, trustees, and other estate representatives during the process of probating wills, obtaining appointments from the court, and carrying out the serious duties and obligations of being an executor, trustee, or other estate representative. We have the experience to guide you through the legal process as quickly and easily as possible.
Sometimes conflict is impossible to avoid, and so we work with our clients and help navigate them through will contests (for both proponents and objectants to wills), and all other aspects of estate litigation for beneficiaries as well as executors, trustees, and other estate representatives.
Our firm has a long history caring for, working with, and has a special understanding of the estate planning needs of lesbians, gay men, transgender people and unmarried couples, including those with children. For over thirty years we have made great strides in making sure that LGBTQ and other individuals and families are accorded the same respect and dignity as any other individual or family.