We work with you to take a comprehensive look at your estate plan, which may include drafting a Last Will and Testament or a Trust Agreement to control what happens to your property after your death, preparing a Power of Attorney to authorize another person to make important decisions for you in the event of incapacity, structuring gifts for tax or charitable purposes, and establishing guardianships or conservatorships to ensure you or your loved ones will receive proper care and protection in the event of disability.
WILLS AND TRUSTS
Last Will and Testament
Bauch & Lechtenberg Law Office is committed to honoring your wishes for the disposition of your property, both during life and after death. The traditional method for directing the disposition of your assets is through a Last Will and Testament. This is an important document that states what should be done with your property after your death; it can also create preferences for guardianship and conservatorship of your minor children. Careful attention must be taken in proper drafting of the Last Will and Testament to ensure the correct beneficiaries receive their intended gifts, to provide for any special matters and to mitigate or allocate estate and inheritance taxes.
Trusts are becoming more popular as an estate planning tool, either as an alternative to, or in conjunction with, a Last Will and Testament. With a trust, you transfer property to a trustee who holds, manages and distributes the property according to a trust agreement we prepare. The trust agreement specifies who your trustee is and how distributions will be made, including when, upon what terms, and to whom. Since the trustee technically holds title to the property, instead of you, there is usually no need for probate administration after death.
Trusts can be revocable or irrevocable. If you have a revocable trust, you can amend it or completely terminate it if your circumstances change down the road. An irrevocable trust is much more difficult or even impossible to change later, and there are sometimes good reasons for that.
Other Transfer Mechanisms
Besides Wills and Trusts, there are many other ways that property can transfer following a person’s death, including through joint tenancy, termination of a life estate, pay on death (POD), transfer on death (TOD) and beneficiary designation. A knowledgeable estate planning attorney will use the right tools to help you build an effective and cohesive estate plan. You should also review your estate plan periodically to make sure that changing tax or other laws have not altered the intended result.
POWERS OF ATTORNEY
Sudden illness or injury can leave anyone totally incapacitated. Or, the infirmities of age can compromise an older adult’s ability to fully function independently. Under such circumstances, concerned loved ones may feel compelled to act, but may lack the legal authority to do so. This can delay essential care, threatening your loved one’s health and welfare when he or she is most vulnerable. Powers of attorney are documents that convey legal authority to act in the name of another person for his or her health and welfare. A power of attorney can grant broad authority or be very limited in scope. We help you prepare for contingencies based on the specific circumstances surrounding you and your loved one.
STATUTORY POWER OF ATTORNEY
The Statutory Power of Attorney grants the attorney-in-fact (agent) authority to act on the principal’s behalf on a potentially broad range of financial, property and legal issues. The agent might handle matters as simple as monthly bills and general oversight or more complex matters like investments, real estate transactions and taxes. The Statutory Power of Attorney allows much flexibility in granting certain authorities but withholding others. Multiple agents can be appointed if there is a desire for shared responsibilities.
HEALTHCARE POWER OF ATTORNEY AND LIVING WILL
A Healthcare (or Medical) Power of Attorney grants the attorney-in-fact (agent) authority to make medical decisions for the principal if the principal is unable to make his or her own decisions. These range of decisions can vary from deciding where to receive treatment, whether to enter a nursing home, input on prescription drugs and can even include end-of-life issues. These decisions often have to be made during challenging times and it can be of great assistance to have a trusted person with clear authority to act.
A Living Will (or Advance Directive) is a document that directs what kind of care the principal should receive, or not receive, if certain conditions exist in the future. The most common living will states that a person does not wish to receive life-sustaining procedures, such as being placed on a ventilator, to keep him or her alive if he or she is in a state of permanent unconsciousness from which there is no likelihood of recovery. The living will, however, can be drafted in such a manner to clearly state your specific wishes, which may include whether and how you want to receive nutrition.