Estate planning is the process of situating your affairs so that assets pass to the intended beneficiaries after your death as efficiently as is possible, without conflict among beneficiaries or ambiguities regarding your intentions. This heading also generally includes planning that will allow someone to make financial and health care decisions for you during your lifetime, if you are unable to make those decisions yourself, and writing down your thoughts on end-of-life medical care.
Some clients ask why they need to hire an attorney for assistance with estate planning when "the forms" are generally available online. Our response is simple; you need specific advice that is tailored to your particular situation. For example, one of the biggest mistakes that people make is naming young children as direct beneficiaries of assets The problem is that a conservator would need to be appointed for children under age 18, and the children get the assets with no strings attached when they turn 18 years old. A person who gets a form online or from an office store would often have no idea that this is a problem, and might falsely have peace of mind that their affairs are in order. We help clients not only to get the proper documents in place, but also to understand how their assets and beneficiary designations should be situated to avoid problems if something terrible happens. Estate planning is not an event, it is a process that is ongoing throughout your lifetime.
After you pass on, someone needs to step in to consolidate your assets, sell them if necessary, pay your debts, taxes and expenses of administration, and distribute the remaining assets to your designated beneficiaries. If you choose a family member, rather than a bank, to perform these tasks (as Personal Representative of your probate estate, or successor trustee of your trust), this person needs assistance in creating a list of things to do and checking things off of that list. Every family is different, so a canned "to-do" list may not fit your specific needs. When acting in this role, what you don't know can hurt you which is why getting good advice early is critical.
This category includes divorce, separate maintenance, child support, pre-nuptial agreements and a host of related issues, which can include direct involvement with a court, or mediation, arbitration or other negotiation.It includes educating and counseling clients through the process, either in a primary or supporting role. These areas encompass the most personal, life-changing and difficult decisions individuals face, which means it is important to have knowledgeable, compassionate and objective advice in navigating this territory.
This might be a by-owner house sale, with no real estate agents involved, in which event the attorney gives advice and prepares the paperwork that might otherwise be prepared by a real estate agent. Or it might mean reviewing documents prepared by real estate agents and title insurance companies to help spot issues, educate clients about real estate law and issues relevant to their particular transaction, and provide unbiased advice about how to deal with a particular matter.
We help clients who to want to open a small business choose the correct type of business entity or entities, create those entities and to otherwise establish their new businesses. We also help clients who want to buy an existing business, as well as owners of established businesses who want to sell their businesses when they are ready to retire, or with transitions to family members if the business will remain in the family. We also provide general legal advice to business owners who need it from time to time. We represent many local businesses, including one or more in each of the following industries: manufacturing, farming, builders, hotels, bed and breakfasts, restaurants, child care, & student housing and other landlords (from single family homes up to large apartment buildings). We do not assist businesses that are looking to raise venture capital.