Perhaps at no other time is it more critical to have a lawyer who listens than when planning your estate.
Estate planning is deeply personal, usually emotional and, at times, complicated. Each situation is unique and calls for a legal professional who is experienced but more importantly, listens intently to clearly understand your wishes.
Our Estate Planning Team has assisted many families through this difficult, and sometimes painful, process. They will work closely with your financial advisors to attend to every detail. Nothing is overlooked and, as a full-service firm, we can easily draw on the expertise of our legal specialists in business, personal injury, family and real estate law.
Areas of Expertise
There are a number of reasons for making a will. You can name a guardian for your children should you pass away before they reach adulthood. Their welfare could be severely affected if provisions have not been made for guardianship in the event of your death. You can also ensure your assets are distributed according to your wishes. Wills should be updated as circumstances in your life change, such as the birth of a child, a death in the family, marriages, divorces and property acquisition. You should also review your will regularly to make sure it continues to reflect your wishes.
If you are an estate trustee (previously known as an "executor"), you are responsible for ensuring the estate is distributed properly. Apart from the considerable time that may be involved, you may have to handle complex issues. An experienced estate lawyer can help you through the estate administration process. Lerners' lawyers have helped many estate trustees to carry out their responsibilities, and have counselled beneficiaries.
Powers of Attorney
A power of attorney is protection for you in the event you become unable to make important decisions while you are alive. For example, you may be in a coma. With a power of attorney, you appoint someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf, such as handling your financial affairs or taking responsibility for your medical care. Lerners' estates lawyers are well versed in the preparation of powers of attorney, ensuring your wishes are properly recorded and communicated, and hence respected.
Trusts are set up to preserve assets for a particular purpose, like educating children, caring for someone with special needs, or creating a fund for a charitable purpose. Trusts must be created properly to ensure that the funds are protected for the intended purpose, and be tax-efficient. As we have done for many clients, our estates lawyers can advise you if a trust would be an effective way to achieve your goals.
One of the principal goals of estate planning is effective tax planning. We assist clients with their tax planning in the areas of intergenerational wealth transfer and business succession. We work closely with our clients' other advisors, such as accountants and financial planners, to ensure an efficient and tax-effective plan is put in place.
Many clients have a philanthropic or charitable aspect to their estate planning. We have expertise in helping clients achieve their goals, both by recommending the appropriate gift to charity and by ensuring that the form of the gift best achieves the clients' personal and tax objectives.
Our estate litigation lawyers have extensive background and knowledge in a variety of areas including guardianship applications where capacity is an issue, will challenges, proving wills in solemn form where there are irregularities with a will, support applications, Family Law Act elections, constructive and resulting trust claims, request for removal of estate trustees and passing of accounts, both contested and uncontested.
If you find yourself in the midst of legal issues after a loved one's passing or you are dealing with someone's mental incapacity, consider giving one of our estate litigation lawyers a call. Any one of them will be able to provide some practical advice to assist you through this stressful period.