The Right Tool for the Job
No two clients are alike. Therefore, we build a custom Estate Plan in keeping with your unique needs and priorities. During client consultations, we advise which legal instruments may be suitable for you.
Below you can read about some of our most frequently recommended documents.
Estate Planning Services
At the Law Offices of David S. Schleiffarth We can help you create a robust strategy for protecting your personal and business assets in a number of situations. We can help with trust administration, power of attorney, special needs planning, business succession planning, and designating beneficiaries. Learn more about our estate planning services below.
What Is Estate Planning?
An estate plan is a comprehensive set of documents which creates contingencies for various types of scenarios including your incapacitation or death. Creating a specific estate plan allows you to leave instructions about handling different situations.
- Determining who will make health care and financial decisions for you if you’re incapacitated. And what powers they will have.
- Determining how your assets will be distributed and in what manner.
- Protecting your assets both during your lifetime and for your beneficiaries.
- Reducing the cost, headache, and time involved in having your assets transferred to your beneficiaries.
Should you depart without an estate plan or will, state legislations will dictate the distribution of your assets. This may lead to unintended asset allocation to certain family members. Moreover, your family will have to navigate through the complex, costly, and lengthy process of probate. If you possess safe deposit boxes, these may also become inaccessible.
For instance, if you wish to bequeath your house to your granddaughter, you could specify her as the sole beneficiary in your will. However, the will must still endure the formal court process of probate, which may necessitate substantial attorney fees for your granddaughter to claim the house.
A well-structured estate plan employs legal instruments, such as trusts, to bypass unnecessary expenses and swiftly and efficiently transfer your assets to your beneficiaries, circumventing court involvement.
Estate Planning Tools
If you want to exercise a greater amount of control over your assets from beyond the grave, trusts can be a great option. Trusts allow you to say how your assets should be controlled over a long period of time after your death, instead of simply giving them to a loved one through a will.
Suppose you have a child for whom you want to provide, but they have demonstrated financial irresponsibility. You wouldn’t want to leave them your bank accounts outright, knowing they could be depleted swiftly.
Or perhaps you wish to establish a fund for your grandchildren, allowing them to receive steady income over an extended period, instead of a large one-time inheritance upon your demise. Imagine you are remarried and want to ensure your current spouse is taken care of following your passing, while also preserving a portion of your assets for your children from your previous marriage.
These scenarios are where trusts excel. Incorporating a trust into your estate plan allows you to streamline your estate and ensure your family is well-provided for, regardless of their posthumous needs.
Last Will and Testament documents
Just as you can’t mend every household issue with a single hammer, you can’t cater to everyone’s estate planning requirements with a standard will or power of attorney. Different tasks may call for a wrench or a screwdriver, similarly, distinct estate plans necessitate the use of a range of tools from our estate planning toolkit. Here are a few common ones we employ:
Power of Attorney
In the event that you’re incapacitated due to an accident, stroke, heart attack, dementia/Alzheimer’s or any other condition, and unable to handle your own affairs, a Power of Attorney (POA) designates a trusted individual to step in and act on your behalf until you’re able to resume control.
A common misconception is that a spouse or child can naturally manage everything in case of one’s incapacitation
This belief is incorrect. Regardless of whether someone is your spouse, child, sibling, or related to you in any manner, they do not automatically have the legal authority to make financial and healthcare decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.
Only a Power of Attorney can grant such rights. If incapacitation occurs without a pre-established POA, it can lead to a tremendously challenging situation for your family and loved ones.
If you want to make sure your assets go to exactly who you want after your death, you need a will. A will dictates who will be in charge of managing your probate, who gets what and how much.
Just like with a POA, most people assume they don’t need wills because their spouses or children will automatically inherit everything, and just like with the POA, this is WRONG. Spouses and children don’t automatically inherit your assets after your death, especially if you have children from multiple marriages. Plus, different assets have different rules regarding how they can be inherited if there’s no will.
Bottom line: if you want to make sure your family and loved ones are provided for exactly how you’d like them to be, you need a will.
How Do I Choose An Estate Planning Lawyer?
Selecting a lawyer to design an estate plan can often be a source of significant anxiety and delay for many individuals. They may have previously engaged a lawyer for other issues – such as divorce, business matters, or contract disputes. Some might have a lawyer connection through family or friends. Others may have no acquaintanceship with any lawyers whatsoever.
However, the crucial question remains – how do you select the right lawyer to safeguard your legacy? How can you be certain that the lawyer possesses the comprehensive perspective and competence required to realize your estate planning objectives? After all, rectifying your estate plan is far more straightforward while you’re still able to do so.
Insider tip: Look at the lawyer’s website. How far down the list are estate planning services? That will tell you where their priorities are.
An effective estate planning lawyer should have a firm grasp on these goals:
- Choose the right person to oversee your estate.
- Provide for your loved ones based on their needs.
- Minimize estate taxes.
- Mitigate or avoid probate.
- Protect your assets.
- Plan for your incapacity.
- Plan for your business.
- If the lawyer can’t give you 2 or more solutions to each of these goals, they may not be the right lawyer for you.
Wills can be used to appoint Guardians, gift property, nominate a Personal Representative, and move property into a Trust.
Trusts avoid Probate Court, preserve money & assets, ensure privacy, and provide long-term support to Beneficiaries.
Health Care Power of Attorney
A Health Care Power of Attorney allows you to appoint an individual as your “Health Care Attorney-in-Fact.” If you are ever incapacitated, this person will act as your proxy in Health Care decisions.
Transfer Deeds & Beneficiary Deeds
Two ways for real estate to avoid Probate are by transferring property to your Trust or using a Beneficiary Deed.
General Power of Attorney
A General Power of Attorney (also called a Financial Power of Attorney) is a legal document that gives an individual (your “Attorney-in-Fact”) the authority to act on your behalf in various legal and financial scenarios.
Advance Health Care Directive
An Advance Health Care Directive is a document outlining your wishes concerning medical treatments you wish to receive (or withhold) in “end-of-life” scenarios.
Approachable Estate Planning. From start to finish, we are here to shoulder the load and make Estate Planning easy!
Make an appointment
Call, text, or email and we will find a time that works with your schedule.
We discuss your life, family, financial situation, & Estate Planning goals. You do not need to bring anything.
You do nothing. Relax and we will prepare drafts of your documents in approximately 2 weeks.
Review & approval
You look over your documents. We answer questions and make any changes as needed.
Once your documents have met your satisfaction, you will sign the final drafts at our office. (In front of 2 witnesses and a notary–provided by us, of course).
Call, text, or email to speak to an attorney!