A very young girl suffered a serious and permanent brain injury while undergoing surgery. An attorney settled the case and it was determined a special needs trust would be very helpful. I drafted the special needs trust which allows her to qualify for Medicaid. Medicaid covers some expenses other health insurance does not – such as payment for a residential group home when her parents are no longer able to take care of her.
Some people want to pass on their property to their heirs by means of a will, while others prefer to do so by use of a trust. Clients of mine who prefer trusts want to avoid the expense and time of probate and to provide protections to their beneficiaries. These protections include divorce protection, creditor protection and avoiding the beneficiary’s ability to quickly squander his inheritance. I have also drafted Wills for some of my clients who may need to apply for Medicaid eligibility – Medicaid coverage is sometimes used to pay nursing home costs.
I have a corporate client whose owners decided to develop a business succession plan. Such a planning provides for the transfer of an owner’s share in the business in the even that owner retires, dies or becomes incapacitated. This involved a good deal of tax planning.
Under current law, the estate tax will apply to less than one percent of the population. However, I have drafted estate plans for those who are subject to the estate tax with the goal to reduce or eliminate estate tax liability.
A client’s brother had died with a Will found on the internet. The Will was deficient so we had to go the time and expense of petitioning the Court to hear my argument to fix the Will. The judge agreed and my client was then able to move forward with the probate process. Of course, that time and expense could have been avoided if the Will had been properly drafted.
My estate planning client wisely asked that I draft a durable power of attorney and a health care power of attorney. Statistically, we are six to seven times more likely to become incapacitated rather than die in any given year. My client’s durable power of attorney named an agent for the client to handle my client’s assets and finances in the event my client would be unable to do so due to incapacity. The health care power of attorney named an agent to make medical decisions for my client in the event my client’s incapacity would be such that she is no longer able to make her own medical decisions. This avoids the scenario where someone would have to initiate and follow through with a trial proceeding such that a judge or jury names a conservator (to handle assets and finances) and a guardian (to make medical decisions).