Below is a list of the different services I provide. The needs of every individual and family are unique, so please contact me today to discuss which options may be the best fit for your personal situation.
A will, also known as a “Last Will and Testament,” is a legal document that allows you to determine who receives your property upon your death. It can be tailored to meet your specific wishes and needs. A properly drafted will allows a person to maintain significant control over how property is inherited. Drafting a will may provide the opportunity to do the following:
- Make gifts of specific property (bequests)
- Establish a testamentary trust
- Provide for the independent administration of your estate
- Designate the executor of your estate, and
- Provide for contingencies, such as an heir predeceasing you.
A good will should simplify the legal process for a grieving family after death. Without one, the state will decide how property is distributed.
A living trust provides a way for you to direct where your assets go and control the manner in which they are distributed.
Essentially, you can call the shots when creating a living trust. You determine who receives, what they receive, why they receive, and when they receive. Most importantly, you also direct how a person receives. You can set up a trust so that your heirs can receive assets outright, or once they achieve a specific milestone, such as reaching a certain age, finishing school, or holding a job. By leaving your own set of instructions tied to your assets, you can link your values, goals, and morals, along with your money and property.
There are many advantages to using a living trust as part of your estate plan. A living trust allows you to keep control over your property and money. And if you become disabled, the person who fills your shoes to act on your behalf is subject to the rules you created. Moreover, assets held in trust are not subject to probate. Also, after the passage of five years, assets put in trust are not Countable Resources for purposes of qualifying for Medicaid Long-Term Care benefits. To determine if a trust is the right estate plan for your family, you may want to consider the following:
- Do you have concerns about leaving money to someone that may not be mature enough to handle it?
- Do you want your family to be able to avoid probate?
- Do you want to control or influence how your legacy is passed?
- Are you afraid family will fight over your assets when you are gone?
- Do you have a child with special needs or a child receiving governmental assistance?
- Do you have a loved one with drug or alcohol problems?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you should consider whether a trust is appropriate for you, your family, and your situation.
Powers of Attorney
One of the most important components of a complete estate plan is the creation of documents to grant an agent the right to act on your behalf, in both your financial and medical affairs, should you become unable to do so. Temporary incapacity can arise due to illness, injury, inconvenience, or general unavailability. More serious circumstances can occur due to irreversible issues such as dementia, Alzheimer’s, long-term coma, or even as one enters the final days or weeks of life. It is important to have agents designated to act on your behalf, using instructions you provided. Without these, the results most likely will not be what you wanted or intended to happen.
The term “living will” is often confused with Last Will and Testament. Unlike a Last Will and Testament, which takes effect at your death, a living will addresses the nature of the medical treatment you receive prior to your death. A living will is a written legal document that directs the implementation or withdrawal of life-sustaining procedures that you would receive should you experience a continual, profound comatose state or be diagnosed with a terminable, irreversible condition and become unable to communicate your wishes. A living will authorizes your agent to enforce your wishes, whether that is terminating life-sustaining measures such as a feeding tube, or removing all life support. A living will significantly increase the likelihood that your wishes will be honored, and will provide some comfort to loved ones who are burdened with the painful obligation of making end-of-life decisions regarding a loved one.
Probate and Succession
Probate (or Succession in Louisiana) is the legal process through which a deceased person’s estate is properly distributed to heirs and designated beneficiaries and any debt owed to creditors is paid off. The process involves the gathering of documents to show the assets and liabilities of the estate. Representation in a Probate or Succession ensures that an estate will be properly administered after a death in the family. Services include representation of the executor, publication of legal notices, assistance with the distribution of assets, and, in the event that someone dies without a will, representation of the surviving family members in court at an heirship proceeding.
Jennifer understands that families are still grieving during the Probate or Succession process and she works to make the judicial proceedings occur as smoothly as possible, without adding extra stress.
Those who cannot take care of themselves or manage their financial affairs may need a legal guardian (or curator in Louisiana). Consideration of a guardianship for a loved one includes a careful evaluation of all options and the representation of the family in court at a hearing.