Estate Planning

Historically, Estate Planning has primarily focused on ensuring that people’s assets are passed on according to their wishes. However, at WanderPolo & Siegel, we believe that this is only one piece of the puzzle. For us, Estate Planning also includes continued lifetime planning. We discuss long-term planning for health care and financial viability that addresses family dynamics, health care decisions, personal values, personal preferences, and more. We do this by giving our clients advice on more than just Wills, Trusts, and Estates. We give our clients advice on executing and implementing Powers of Attorneys, Health Care Proxies, and Living Wills in order to ensure that they are best situated for the present and the future.

We take an individualized approach that includes analyzing and integrating tax, personal, financial, and public benefits needs. We also work with our clients beyond the initial document execution to ensure that their goals are served through correct asset allocation and titling. Whether your wish is to retain control of your medical decisions, to leave an inheritance for your children or develop a charitable legacy, our law firm can assist you. Our attorneys are well versed in estate planning and asset preservation and are prepared to apply that experience to best ensure that our clients’ estate planning individualized needs are met during life and after death.

Whether you are a young working person, a retiree with grown children or an individual with a disability, now is the time to plan for the future. No matter your stage in life, WanderPolo & Siegel can guide you to the best solutions for your unique needs.

Estate Planning Strategies are especially crucial for individuals who:

  • Own a business
  • Have minor children
  • Are responsible for dependents or relatives who are disabled, elderly, or with special needs
  • Have children from a prior marriage
  • Have non-traditional families
  • Are are in a same-sex relationship
  • Wish to donate assets to charities, universities or non-profit organizations

A Last Will and Testament is an essential document regardless of the size of your estate that allows you to direct how and where your assets will go after your death, who will administer your assets, and addresses other concerns like who will take care of your minor children.

There are many types of Trusts that individuals can use to administer assets during their lifetime and after their death. Trusts are also an important tool used for tax planning. Further, it is essential for individuals who may need long term care or public benefits to have a qualified elder law or special needs attorney review their trust to ensure that they do not have unintended negative or adverse benefits consequences.

Estate Planning includes the use of the two documents above and others in order to better plan for a smooth disposition of one’s assets before and after death. There are many concerns that people may wish to plan for such as: tax planning, proper disposition of assets, business succession, protecting assets from estate recovery if a spouse is receiving public benefits, or ensuring that a gift of money does not cause a disabled beneficiary to lose eligibility for public benefits. At WanderPolo & Siegel, we take a holistic approach to estate planning. We understand that every client is different and tailor our services to meet individualized needs.

We also advise that everyone have a plan for the orderly management of financial and medical decision-making during life in case of emergency or incapacity. The simplest method of substitute management is through the use of a Durable Power of Attorney, a Health Care Proxy, and a Living Will.

Durable Power of Attorney: A Durable Power of Attorney appoints an agent with the ability to manage your affairs for you, effective immediately. This document continues to be in force if you become incapacitated. This allows your agent to conduct banking transactions, pay your debts, pursue a legal claim for you, sell and purchase stocks, file tax returns, and perform many other financial activities for you. This document is an important tool in Medicaid and tax planning. If not properly drafted, a Power of Attorney may actually prevent one from achieving their Medicaid and tax planning goals.

Health Care Proxy: A Health Care Proxy appoints an agent to make decisions concerning your health care and personal care should you be unable to act on your own behalf. This most commonly arises when you are unconscious or you no longer have the legal capacity to make healthcare decisions for yourself. A Health Care Proxy helps to resolve any conflicts that may arise in your medical treatment and helps to ensure that your wishes are followed.

Living Will: A Living Will or Instruction Directive allows you to outline your end of life health care goals and values. You may include information regarding functional abilities or treatment considerations if you become unable to communicate. You may want to express your thoughts on life prolonging medical treatments such as ventilators, tube feeding, CPR, and dialysis. Many of our clients also provide their agents with other end-of-life instructions that incorporate their individual wishes and preferences.

Estate Administration is the process of probating a Will or seeking the appointment of an Administrator of the Estate where no Will can be found. Once appointed this can entail collecting and re-titling the assets, paying debts, providing an accounting and distributing the assets to the beneficiaries. Often it involves filing and paying estate and inheritance tax returns as well. New Jersey estates may be subject to a variety of taxes. Decisions made at the time of estate administration may reduce current or future tax burdens.

At WanderPolo & Siegel, our goal is to ease the burden on families coping with the loss of a loved one. We provide a tailored approach handling as much or as little of the administration as each individual client wishes.

Occasionally, Estate Administration will result in the need for litigation. WanderPolo & Siegel will assist clients with estate litigation including will contests, trust reformation and fiduciary removal among other issues.

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