Wills & Trusts
A WILL is a legal instrument that directs one's personal representative to perform certain actions concerning a decedent's estate upon death. It may provide for disposition of one's remains, the designation of a guardian for minor children, the distribution of one's assets, and the appointment of an executor to administer the estate. Generally, it must be probated through a court proceeding.
A TRUST is a private legal instrument--similar in nature to a will--which generally does not require court intervention. It directs a trustee to administer the trust assets and distribute them according to the individual's wishes. It may also be used as a device to lower or eliminate estate and other taxes. There are several variations of trusts, the choice of which generally requires specialized legal advice unique to each situation.
In order to become enforceable, both wills and trusts have specific legal requirements.
ESTATE PLANNING essentially involves a strategic review and planning of a client's assets and needs for the protection of the client and future beneficiaries.
This may include the creation of a Will, Trust, Powers of Attorney, Advance Health Care Directive (AHCD), etc. Each client has a unique situation, one which our firm will evaluate and advise on an individual basis.
PROBATE is the process by which the estate of a decedent (an individual who has died) is administered and distributed by a court. A probate is generally necessary for a person who dies with assets and only a will (testate), or has assets but no will or other testamentary instruments (intestate).
The probate process is a public proceeding that is lengthy, costly, and lacks privacy. In most cases, one can avoid the probate process through proper estate planning during one's lifetime.
Powers of Attorney & AHCD
A POWER OF ATTORNEY (POA) is a written authorization to represent or act on another's behalf in private affairs, business, or some other legal matter.
An ADVANCE HEALTH CARE DIRECTIVE is a document that details your healthcare preferences, and appoints an agent(s) to make these decisions if/when you become incapacitated. Creating an AHCD avoids having your family guess your wishes or make important medical decisions during emotional times.
Our office represents parties in the purchase and sale of real property, as well as the litigation of disputes concerning real property.
Administration & Litigation
A Will is generally administered through a court probate process, which requires the determination of the decedent's assets, obligations, valuations, accounting and distribution.
Generally, a Trust can be administered without court oversight, allowing the trustee to determine the trust assets, obligations, valuations, accounting and distribution. Our office guides the trustee in his/her administrative obligations.
Oftentimes, Will and Trust litigation arise from various disputes with respect to the creation of the legal instrument, the valuation of the estate, the financial accounting of the estate, and other technical issues that may arise within the administrative process.
Major issues include: whether or not the decedent had the requisite mental capacity to execute a will or trust; whether or not the decedent was subject to any fraud or undue influence at the time of signing the instrument; breach of fiduciary duty by the trustee or personal representative; the interpretation of an ambiguous instrument; elder abuse; etc.
PLEASE NOTE: the content on our site is for informational purposes only, is general in nature, and is not intended to and should not be relied upon or construed as a legal opinion or legal advice regarding any specific issue or factual circumstance. Nor is this information intended to create, and receipt of it does not create, an attorney-client relationship between you and the firm. Therefore, you should consult an attorney in the event you wish to receive legal advice.