Estate Planning

Many people believe that estate planning is only for people who are particularly wealthy, have elaborate schemes in mind for passing their money to their heirs, or for people who are acutely ill and contemplating their death. This could not be farther from the truth!

Estate planning is for every husband, wife, mother, father, grandparent, business owner, professional, or anyone else who has someone they care about, are concerned about providing responsibly for their own well being and for the well being of those they love, and for anyone who seeks to make a difference in the lives of others after they're gone. Estate planning is not 'death planning'; it's 'life planning', and an essential and rewarding process for individuals and families who engage in it.

When done properly, estate planning requires that a highly trained individual lead you through one or more in-depth meetings to uncover your hopes, fears, and expectations for yourself and for those who are most important to you. This process almost always requires the preparation of several sophisticated legal documents, but those documents themselves are not 'estate planning.' Planning is a process, represented by a complete strategy that is properly documented and maintained by a professional who has taken the time to get to know you, and who is committed to continuing to serve you.


A will ' or a 'last will and testament' ' is a legal document that tells the probate court how you want your property distributed after you die, and who has the power and responsibility to wrap up your affairs. Through the probate process the court will give the 'executor' of your will the authority to gather all of your property, pay any bills and debts you owe, and distribute your remaining property as you specify in your will.

Because the will takes effect only after a court determined that it is a valid document, a judge must act before your executor can step in and manage your estate.

Revocable Trust

A Revocable Trust based estate plan allows you to:

• Control your property while you are alive

• Take care of you and your loved ones in the event of disability

• Pass your property to your heirs when and how you want while maintaining privacy

• Ensure that you and your spouse have sufficient assets to maintain your standard of living now and in retirement.

• Maintain maximum control and flexibility during your lifetime.

• Simplify administration as much as possible upon your death or disability (avoiding probate & guardianship).

• If married, protect your assets so that they cannot be lost as a result of remarriage after the death of one of you.

• Protect your children's or grandchildren's inheritance from mismanagement.

• Structure your children's or grandchildren's inheritance in such a way that it installs values and virtues.

• Provide for the education of your children or grandchildren.

• Reduce the risk of litigation from heirs who receive less than they think they are entitled to.

• Minimize income taxes to the extent possible.

• Eliminate as much estate tax as possible.

Durable Powers of Attorney

A durable power of attorney allows you to appoint someone you know and trust to make your financial decisions even when you cannot. If you are incapacitated without these legal documents, then you and your family will be involved in a probate proceeding known as a guardianship. This is the court proceeding where a judge determines who should make these decisions for you and requires ongoing supervision of the court.

Health Care Power of Attorney

A health care power of attorney allows your trusted friend or family member to make medical treatment decisions for you if you are unable to communicate your wishes to doctors. Without one, you must have a guardian appointed by the court before decisions can be made on your behalf.

A health care power of attorney not only saves precious decision making time, but it also makes sure that the individual you trust the most has the power to make these most important decisions for you if you are unable to make the decisions on your own.

Living Will
A living will allows you to state your wishes in advance regarding what types of medical life support measures you prefer to have, or have withheld/withdrawn if you are in a terminal condition (without reasonable hope of recovery) and cannot express your wishes yourself. Oftentimes a living will is executed along with a Durable Power of Attorney for Health care, which gives someone legal authority to make your health care decisions when you are unable to do so yourself.

HIPAA Authorization

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), provides that absent a written authorization from the patient, a health care provider cannot disclose medical information to anyone other than the patient or the person appointed under state law to make health care decisions for the patient. The Regulations promulgated under HIPAA specifically authorize a HIPAA Authorization for release of this information to persons other than you or your personal representative. Thus, you should consider creating such an Authorization so that loved ones and others can access this information in addition to the personal representative.