Our practice is focused on estate planning and administration only

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery


Practice AreasEstate Planning

When clients come into our office, their first question is usually, “Do I need an estate plan?”  After learning more about the client’s goals, assets, family and intentions, our answer will many times be “yes.”  However, each client has a unique set of circumstances that make an estate plan important for the client and their family.

The following is a brief list of the more common reasons why an estate plan is beneficial for many families.

  • Avoid probate court (a timely and costly court proceeding)
  • Plan for your passing, but also plan for incapacity during your lifetime
  • Control over the distribution and management of your assets after your passing
  • Avoid or minimize estate taxes

At Estate Planning Partners, we believe it is important to take the time to understand our client’s unique situation so that we can ensure their estate plan accomplishes their goals and brings them peace of mind.  We recognize that an estate plan isn’t merely a legal document – it’s a way to protect your family’s ongoing legacy.

Once a client understands the importance of estate planning, their next question is “What is an estate plan?”  An estate plan is generally a set of documents setting forth your instructions about what you want to happen with your personal and financial affairs in the event you become incapacitated during your lifetime and upon your passing.  For most individuals, an estate plan will be comprised of the following five main documents: (1) Revocable Living Trust, (2) Will, (3) Durable Power of Attorney, (4) Advance Health Care Directive, and (5) HIPAA Authorization.  Sometimes a client does not need all five documents in order to accomplish their goals.  Each client’s situation is unique.  After we meet with a client and better understand their financial and family situation, we can provide recommendations and direction as to which documents will best accomplish their goals.

Revocable Living Trust

A revocable living trust is a trust you create and is in effect during your lifetime.  It is a document you can revise throughout your life as circumstances change over the course of your life (for example, marriage, birth of a child, death, divorce, etc.), and it is a roadmap and legal instructions for the distribution of your hard-earned assets.  As your life changes, the terms of your trust can change too.  In the event you become incapacitated, a revocable living trust will ensure that your assets are there for you and are being managed by a person you trust.  After your passing, a revocable living trust has many benefits.  For example, it helps your family avoid probate court (a timely and costly court proceeding), it ensures a smooth and efficient transition of your assets to your beneficiaries, and it ensures your assets are managed and distributed to your beneficiaries by someone you trust (this is especially important when your beneficiaries are young or disabled).

For many of our clients, the trust is used to protect and preserve assets for their family.  Whether to have it managed by a trusted person until a young child becomes financial responsible, or to protect assets from a child’s spouse and instead have the assets passed to their grandchildren, in many instances, trusts are used to preserve assets for loved ones and future generations.


A will is created during your lifetime and goes into effect after your passing.  If you have a revocable living trust, a pourover will works with your trust to ensure that any assets that were not part of the trust and do not otherwise have a pay on death beneficiary or joint owner, are placed in your trust after your passing.  If you do not have a revocable living trust, then a simple will handles the distribution of your entire estate after your passing.  A will allows you to name beneficiaries (who should receive your assets) and allows you to state who it is you want in charge of your estate after your passing.  If you have minor children, a will is very important as it allows you to nominate guardians, the persons you want caring for your children if your children are minors when you pass away.

Durable Power of Attorney

A power of attorney is a document that is created during your lifetime and is in effect only during your lifetime.  A power of attorney is an important document in the event you become incapacitated because it allows you to appoint an individual you trust to help manage your assets and other affairs (for example, signing you up for government benefits, handling your mail, dealing with your taxes and bills, etc.).  Imagine a situation where you suddenly find yourself in the hospital and unable to go to the bank, pay your credit card bill, pay your mortgage, and sign documents.  In this situation, the agent you name in your power of attorney can step in and assist you with these tasks during your period of incapacity.  As well, if you have minor children your power of attorney allows you to nominate a temporary guardian for your children during your period of incapacity.

Advance Health Care Directive

An advance health care directive is a document that allows you to appoint who you want to make health care decisions for you in the event you are unable to make those health care decisions for yourself.  Again, imagine a situation where you are in the hospital and your condition is such that you are unable to communicate your wishes to the health care providers.  In this difficult situation, your advance health care directive will indicate who you want making health care decisions for you, as well as what you want those decisions to be (for example, whether you want life prolonging procedures, and whether you want to be an organ donor).

HIPAA Authorization

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, often referred to as HIPAA, addresses the uses and disclosures of your health information.  A HIPAA Authorization allows certain persons you have designated to obtain your medical information from your medical providers.  Having access to medical information can be important for individuals you have selected to assist you in the event you become incapacitated.  For example, it can become important for your trustee and/or power of attorney to have access to your medical information as they will need a clear understanding of your prognosis and the type of care you will need in order to ensure your assets are available to pay for your medical care.