Yes we do. We believe that our experience allows us to provide a great deal of information to you in our initial consultation that provides a valuable way for you to learn about how we can assist with your particular area of concern, as well as giving both of us an opportunity to meet and see if working together will be mutually beneficial.
Our initial consultation fee is $200.00 for a meeting with the attorney up to one hour. If you retain us for further matters, many estate planning documents are billed at a flat fee and in all other matters, we charge $350/hr. if you wish to retain our services. A detailed list of recommended services or options and corresponding fees may be provided at your initial consultation for your review.
Isn't Estate Planning expensive?
Not in comparison to the expenses that are incurred from the failure to do Estate Planning. With proper Estate Planning, often the costs can be far less than the cost that accumulate for someone who has not done any Estate Planning and in some cases the tax savings can be enormous.
How much will planning cost?
Our experience allows us to charge a flat fee for almost all of our estate planning and elder law services. A flat fee allows us to take the time needed to thoroughly discuss your unique situation.
Flat fees also give you peace of mind knowing what your plan will cost, and eliminating any surprises when you receive the final invoice.
There are some services that we do charge an hourly rate. Most of these services involve the court (e.g., probate and guardianship) or involve factors that are unknown or hard to predict (e.g., trust administration or amending documents).
Do you accept Credit Cards?
Yes we accept Visa, Master Card and Discover.
Should I get in to see you right away?
In many of our cases we will send you a questionnaire to fill out, prior to the initial consultation. It’s our experience that the use of our time at the initial consultation will be that much more valuable and productive for both you and the attorney if that questionnaire has been largely completed ahead of time. It also helps you know what kind of documents to bring with you to that consultation.
Do I need a will or a trust?
At our meeting we will discuss your particular goals to determine whether a will or trust will be the best way to meet your goals.
Do I need powers of attorney?
Yes. Powers of attorney - whether financial or health care - allow you to select the individuals you trust to assist you when you are unable to make decisions on your own. Without powers of attorney, your loved ones will have to have the court appoint a guardian for you. This will not only be emotionally difficult, but will require time and money to accomplish; time and money that can be saved by having adequate powers of attorney.
Elder Law and Medicaid planning
My parents need an Elder Law Attorney, but who should come to that first appointment?
We prefer to meet with the parents in most cases and we will assume in most cases the parent will become our client. In some cases, that is not realistic, where, for example, the parent has dementia or has other disabilities that prevent them from effectively participating in the meeting. In many cases, the parent prefers to have a son or daughter or even a larger group of the family come with them to the appointment; while we’re happy to accommodate the wishes of that client and the family, it may become necessary to meet with the parent/client alone at some point. This is for the protection for everyone involved.
Do I really need to "spenddown" or are there ways to preserve something?
A "spenddown" is a term that is typically used to refer to aggressive spending in order to reduce your assets in order to qualify for Medicaid. Although a popular instruction, it is often not necessary. We typically work with clients to come up with alternatives to a spenddown because once the money is spent, it is gone and will not be available to you to enhance your level of care or provide for basis needs Medicaid does not cover. We want you to know your alternatives in order for you to make an informed decision on how to spenddown, if necessary.
special needs planning
What is a Supplemental Needs Trust?
Supplemental Needs Trusts, sometimes called 3rd Party Special Needs Trusts, are a generic term for the types of trust that can be set up for individuals who are disabled. Both Federal and State Laws permit that Trusts can be established for the benefit of these individuals and yet those individuals can retain their eligibility for Governmental Benefits. The money in trust can then be used to supplement or pay for things extra or beyond that which is provided by the Government Benefits. There are several distinctive types of these trusts and which one works best in your situation must be carefully evaluated by someone familiar with these types of trusts.
What is a Special Needs Trust?
When people refer to a Special Needs Trust they most often mean a 1st Party Special Needs Trust. This type of Special Needs Trust is created to hold the assets of the disabled individual. This trust allow the individual to retain their eligibility for Government Benefits. The trust must contain language requiring repayment to the State for benefits the individual received during their lifetime. In addition, the disabled individual cannot add to this trust once they turn 65.
What is a Pooled Trust?
A pooled trust is a type of special needs trust where a non-profit organization "pools" assets of multiple disabled individuals allowing smaller amounts to be set aside for the disabled individual's benefit while continuing to retain their eligibility for Government Benefits. Most pooled trust companies (e.g., Wispact) have the ability for individuals to create both 1st Party and 3rd Party Special Needs Trusts.
probate and trust administration
What is Probate?
Probate is the court process used to settle your estate. Any assets left in your name are subject to Probate, whether you have a will or not. The Probate process typically takes 9-12 months.
Are there alternatives to Probate?
There are many alternatives to Probate. These can include Revocable Living Trusts, Irrevocable Trusts, Transfer on Death Deeds, Life Estate Deeds, Beneficiary Designations and Marital Property Agreements. There isn’t a one size fits all answer. It depends on your unique situation.
Can I administer a trust without an attorney?
Although you are not legally required to hire an attorney to administer a trust, we highly recommend at least meeting with us to discuss your duties and liabilities as trustee. As trustee, you are liable for administering the trust properly.
Not only does the trust govern your role as trustee, but there are other laws that have direct bearing on the administration of a trust. For example, required reporting to the beneficiaries of the trust. We are happy to discuss trust administration services with you and assist at whatever level and with whatever tasks you choose.
Can I name someone as a life insurance beneficiary with a verbal agreement they pay for my funeral and divide the rest among the children?
We see cases like this all the time and unfortunately the beneficiary often refuses or has forgotten about the agreement to pay the funeral bill and divide the monies with everyone else. There is no enforceable agreement in that situation. There are much better options available to accomplish this task.
If your questions aren't answered on this page or you are ready to meet with us, please contact us.