Iris Bikel, Attorney at Law

Estate Planning and Elder Care

Estate Planning         

Whether you are just beginning to accumulate wealth and want to protect yourself from creditors; whether you have just gotten married and want to ensure that your spouse is able to live in the manner that he/she has grown accustomed to should something happen to you; whether you have children and grandchildren and want to minimize your, and their, tax liability; or, whether you are ill and want to guarantee that you receive the appropriate medical care and benefits that you deserve, I will create the right plan that achieves your individual goals.   Every situation is different and therefore, you need a plan that best meets your needs.E

Estate Planning Services: 

Formulate a plan based on your specific goals and needs.  Make your wishes known while you are healthy and clear minded.  Protect yourself against the rising cost of health care today while still preserving your wealth for the benefit of your heirs and beneficiaries.  Determine if, and what kind of, trusts are applicable to your situation.  Plan now for your family's future.

Do you need a Will and/or a Trust? 

A will can exist in conjuntion with a trust or on its own if a trust is not needed.  The most important aspect of a will is that it explains who will inherit all your assets (personal, financial or real property) and where your children shall be placed should something happen to you and/or your spouse. 

In absence of a will, a court can force your loved ones to sell assets, including real estate, without regard for tax consequneces and without guidance as to what is best for your heirs.  With a will, courts are obligated to follow your instructions which will allow your heirs to benefit in the manner that you so choose. 

There are many reasons for creating various kinds of trusts that satisfy very
specific goals.  If you own property in a different state, wish to bypass estate
tax payments from one generation to another, want to protect your children
in case your spouse remarries, chances are you need a trust.  For larger estates, putting assets in a trust is useful because a Trustee will manage your entire estate.  Rather than have a court name one or more heirs as Trustees, who then have to decide what to do together (which may cause them heightened stress and anxiety), you can designate one or more individuals who are well equipped and prepared to carry out your wishes.  There are also ways to avoid creditor liability, which is especially helpful to the self employed and those with large estates.  Planning early can also safeguard you from having to pay for costly medical expenses in the future.  Don't wait until you need a nurse's aid or wish to live in a nursing home.  Plan early to retain what has taken you a lifetime to accumulate so that your heirs can benefit.  Devise the plan that works for you. 

Trust Administration and Probate: 

Probate is the process by which the assets of the deceased are transferred to the beneficiaries named in his/her will.  If there is a will, the person named as Executor files a petition with the Court to become Executor.  Once appointed, that person distributes the assets to the named beneficiaries after paying all creditors. 

If there is no will, someone close to the deceased files a petition to become Administrator of his/her Estate.  The process is similar however, the estate assets are distributed according to Intestate Succession laws rather than the deceased's wishes.

Setting up a plan ahead of time makes it easy for your loved ones to receive what you've amassed during your lifetime and it puts everyone on notice, including the courts, as to what your true wishes are for the distribution of your estate.  A carefully prepared plan will protect your estate and will help manage how, when and to whom your assets are distributed.  Remember, going to Probate Court without a clear and concise plan is much more costly and cumbersome than naming an Executor and Trustee to oversee your estate according to your wishes, and as detailed in your will and/or trust. 

Trust Administration: Normally assets placed in trust are not subject to Probate, which seems to make the entire process easier.  However, depending on the size of your estate and the type of trust you create, there may be some need to still go to court.  Therefore, the reasons for creating a trust are not always to avoid going to court but rather to legally avoid creditor claims, avoid ancillary probate for real estate in different states, etc.  

Disclaimer: This site is provided for informational purposes only.  While legal issues are discussed, it is not legal advice or legal representation. We make no warranties or guarantees as to the accuracy and authenticity of the information provided herein and suggest that you contact an attorney to discuss your particular situation.  


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