Most people know about Wills and their basic purpose – to ensure that one’s assets go to the right beneficiaries when an individual passes away. A Will names an Executor, the person who Will carry out a deceased individual’s wishes as stated in their Will. A Will can be used to name guardians and establish trusts for children or incapacitated persons, while also naming the trustee who will be in charge of carrying out the instructions of the trust. Trusts are also commonly used in second marriage situations where a person may want to allow a spouse to have access to certain property while the spouse is living, but for that property to ultimately pass to the decedent’s children. 

While Wills can serve as powerful estate planning tools, they are only effective if they are properly drafted. My goal as an estate planning attorney is to review the options with you and establish a Last Will and Testament that ensures your wishes will be honored.


Power of Attorney documents definitely fall into the “it’s better to have them and not need them, then need them and not have them” category.  Nobody wants to think about becoming incapacitated or disabled, either temporarily or permanently, but it is a necessary and important step in the estate planning process.  Many people are under the mistaken impression that their spouse or adult children can automatically take over for them in case they become incapacitated. This is not true. I highly recommend Durable Healthcare and Financial Powers of Attorney which are designed to protect you and assist your loved ones in making financial and health care decisions that are in your best interest.  Having signed Powers of Attorney related to both your finances and your health care not only puts you in control of who will manage your finances and health care decisions (your agents), but it can also spare your loved ones the expense, delay and frustration caused by not having agents appointed in advance.


In addition to a Health Care Power of Attorney, you can also sign a Living Will, which reads less like a legal document and more personally, like it comes from the person who signs it.  A Living Will, which is sometimes called an Advance Directive, pertains to a person’s choice to refuse or withdraw medical treatment that serves only to prolong the process of dying if that person is medically determined to be in a terminal condition or in a state of permanent unconsciousness.  In addition to providing this document to your primary care physician, I always recommend that you share your Living Will with the agent appointed in your Health Care Power of Attorney.  It can be a helpful and important conversation starter about matters which most of us are hesitant to discuss.

A Living Will is also a useful document to express your desires regarding how you wish to prepare for death in accordance with your faith, spiritual beliefs or other preferences.  For example, if you are Catholic, you can direct that a priest be called to administer sacraments.  


Many people have preconceived notions about Trusts and believe that they are only for multi-millionaires who wish to leave large trust funds to their children. However, this is far from the truth. Trusts are simply an arrangement where one party holds property on behalf of another party. In an estate planning context, Trusts are created by the person doing the estate planning (the settlor), who authorizes another person (the trustee) to manage the assets for the benefit of a third party (the beneficiary). Trusts for Minors, Special needs Trusts, Revocable and Irrevocable Trusts and Spendthrift trusts can be useful tools when planning your estate and preserving your legacy.