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Estate Planning and Administration

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Estate Plan Documents
Our firm provides legal assistance and advice in the preparation of estate plan documents including wills, trust agreements, durable powers of attorney, living wills and advance medical directives. Sometimes depending upon family situations and tax issues, formation of business entities can be a part of an estate plan to help reduce taxes and facilitate the transfer of property at death to the respective beneficiaries with safeguards, if needed.

Wills
We offer legal services in the preparation of simple wills and when necessitated by family situations or tax considerations, the preparation of wills that have special provisions to address these concerns. 

Trust Agreements
We provide legal assistance and advice in connection with the preparation of revocable trust agreements (sometimes referred to as inter vivos or living trusts) and the preparation of irrevocable trust agreements when circumstances are appropriate. We can review with a client the advantages and disadvantages of using a revocable trust agreement to "avoid probate" and to have confidentiality in the size of the estate and/or the beneficiaries.

Estate Administration
We provide assistance in the probating of a will and can assist a client to whatever extent desired in the administration of an estate. This can vary greatly from just giving advice when needed to assisting a client in each step of the estate administration process including the distribution of notices of probate, preparation of the estate inventory, preparation of accountings required by the Commissioner of Accounts, and distribution issues. Also, on occasion we either work with the accountant for the decedent or prepare in our office the necessary fiduciary income tax returns and on larger estates the United States Estate Tax Return.

Trust Administration
For family or tax reasons a person may establish a trust. This trust may be established under provisions of the will or established under a separate trust agreement. "Trust administration" relates to the management of the trust assets by the trustee from funding until distribution to the ultimate beneficiaries. During this period of time the trustee has the responsibility for managing the trust assets and depending upon the provisions of the trust document, can have responsibilities to make interim distributions of income and/or principal. We provide legal services to a trustee in connection with the trustee's duties and the trust document. On occasion, we are also called upon to represent a beneficiary particularly in situations where the beneficiary needs legal advice as to the appropriateness of actions being taken by a trustee. If needed by the trustee, our firm will provide assistance in connection with the necessary record keeping by the trustee in handling the trust, current issues during administration, and assistance in the ultimate distribution of the trust fund as directed by the trust instrument.

Durable Powers of Attorney
A power of attorney is a legal document that authorizes one person to act on behalf of another person. The authorization is frequently in the form of a power of attorney document. We provide assistance in the preparation of powers of attorney whether general or with special terms as well as advice relating to the use of the power of attorney when appropriate. On occasion we assist a client who is serving as an attorney-in-fact under a power of attorney with record keeping.

Living Will
A living will is a document which expresses the persons desire if in a terminal condition where there is no reasonable hope of recovery.

Medical Power of Attorney
The durable power of attorney referred to above contains powers relating to the administration of assets.The medical power of attorney authorizes someone to act on your behalf in the event you need to have medical decisions made but at that time are incapable of making them yourself. The medical power of attorney appoints an agent to make these medical decisions for you under those circumstances. The medical power of attorney can be as broad or as limited as you desire.

Estate Tax Returns
On larger estates the Internal Revenue Service requires the filing of an estate tax return. Our services include giving legal advice relating to the estate tax return and, when needed by the client, the preparation of the estate tax return. On other occasions when the decedent has had a relationship with an accountant, the accountant can do the preparation of the estate tax return and we provide legal advice as to issues relating to the estate tax return.

Fiduciary Income Tax Returns
Frequently an estate and/or a trust will require the filing of fiduciary income tax returns to report the income earned by the estate or by the trust. We offer services in the preparation of these fiduciary income tax returns or, if the person establishing the trust has an established relationship with an accountant, we work with the accountant in connection with the legal issues on the return.