Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What kinds of matters do we handle in a practice focused on Estate Planning, Probate and Elder Law?

1. Estate planning, including more advanced tax planning issues for estates subject to Federal or State estate taxation;

2. Asset protection planning, including implementation of asset-protection trusts, in conjunction with structuring of business entities, such as LLC’s.

3. Long-term care planning, including advice regarding long-term care insurance and the availability of Medicaid;

4. Guardianship of the person and conservatorship of the estate;

5. Probate (or other procedures required on a person’s death), including will contests, and trust administrations;

6. Planning and implementation of “living wills” and other advance directives and health care rights;

7. Planning for the care of physically or mentally disabled children and adults, including special needs trusts;

8. Counseling on availability of Veteran’s Benefits, and prosecuting such claims as necessary;

9. Dissolution of marriage where one spouse is physically or mentally disabled;

10. Elder abuse and exploitation.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Planning for "Never"

I am Suzanne Benfield, an attorney here at the Denise Kent Law Group and I especially enjoy helping out families with young children (like myself). Most people say to me, “Oh, I have a will. I’m all set.” Mmmmmm, no. Not quite. Not even close.

Unfortunately, we have to think of the worst case scenario. I have an acquaintance whose parents were killed simultaneously in an auto accident in upstate New York several years ago (really). The only good thing about it was that their children were grown adults, married and self-sufficient at the time of their death.

But what if the kids were young and at home with a babysitter while you and your spouse were driving to a local restaurant on a “date night” and the same turn of events occurred? Who would take care of and raise your kids in your absence? Not only should you consider who you would want to take care of your kids, but who would physically be able to take care of your kids? Further, how would that person/persons provide for your kids for day-to-day financial needs, as well as health insurance and college?

It’s really hard to imagine this scenario for yourself. Trust me, I know. Even though I am a lawyer, I didn’t have an estate plan in place for some time after my kids were born. More than imagining me not being alive, it was harder to imagine my young and vulnerable kids without me or my spouse. The good thing about this is that statistically, it is highly unlikely that both you and your spouse will be taken out simultaneously. But, we should plan for the worst case, so that no one else does it for you.
So, what to do? If you are like me, you don’t have a whole lot of assets…a house with a mortgage, a couple of cars, a retirement account, some cash accounts and maybe some other small investments. Will that, all together, support your kids in the event you die or can’t work due to disability? Probably not. So, I have life insurance whose proceeds will dump into a trust for the benefit of my spouse and kids. (Well, it’s a little more complicated than that, but that’s the jist of it.)

What happens if you don’t do estate planning? Should something happen to you and/or your spouse, a judge (who doesn’t know you or your family) will decide the fate of your children. And, the proceedings will be public. I can’t urge you enough to take the time to think about doing estate planning sooner rather than later so that in the unlikely event something does happen, things go smoothly and seamlessly for your children at an already very difficult emotional time.

We provide solutions to these problems. Please feel free to contact us at Denise Kent Law Group, where we enjoy helping people, one family at a time.