The attorneys of Blake Behme Gilbreth Links, P.C. have experience in preparing estate plans for our clients. We work with our clients through the estate planning process, from analyzing the family’s financial circumstances and goals, to educating our clients about the range of estate planning options, and to drafting and implementing the estate plan. We prepare estate plans for a wide range of clients, from young families with children, retirees and seniors, to business owners and others. Some of the instruments we prepare as estate planning attorneys include: wills, trusts, irrevocable trusts, revocable living trusts, powers of attorney for property, powers of attorney for healthcare, insurance trusts, family limited partnerships, Dynasty trusts, living wills and numerous other estate planning documents. We are passionate, caring, courteous and patient attorneys since we understand the estate planning process can be challenging given facts and circumstances which differ with each case.
We have been preparing wills for decades. These documents take into account the identity of personal representatives, successor personal representatives, beneficiaries and trust provisions. This would also entail staggered distributions to minors in regard to bequests, depending upon facts and circumstances.
We have been involved in trust matters for years, including drafting Irrevocable Trusts, Revocable Trusts, Medicaid Trust, Testamentary Trusts, Interval Trusts, and other documents. This work includes identifying trustees, successor trustees, the terms and conditions of any trusts, directives regarding distributions made to beneficiaries or others and similar matters.
Power of Attorney
We have been involved in the drafting and modification of power of attorneys for years. These include power of attorneys for health care, power of attorneys for property, durable power of attorneys, limited power of attorneys, and living wills and other documents. These documents can be customized to fit the exact nature and circumstances of the factual situation involving a client.
We have been involved in assisting various parties with their estate planning needs for decades. This work has included not only office visits, but also meeting at hospitals, nursing homes or other locations, depending upon the requests of the client. We often work with the client, family members, nursing homes and state agencies in regard to these matters.
There are occasions when guardianships of the person and/or estate may be recommended so that a loved one or other may receive letters of guardianship to deal with nursing homes or state agencies. Our work in this area includes representation in Court and handling annual accounts or other requirements involved in a guardianship.
We have represented clients for years regarding probate avoidance, including through the use of Revocable Living Trusts or other strategies. If this can be accomplished, there can be significant savings and avoidance of delays in handling administration, without involving the Court.
We are often contacted by family and friends of elderly individuals who face myriad of problems in regard to medicaid planning. Some of these issues have to do with the value of the assets, contemplated transfers and how same may impact medicaid planning. In some instances, individuals are very close to being admitted to a care facility and are concerned about disclosures they are being requested to make. In other cases, clients have concerns regarding what property or income they can keep and how this impacts eligibility for medicaid.
We sometimes discuss an irrevocable trust in order to attempt to shield family assets from creditors, or in the context of medicaid planning. We review with our clients the nature and extent of assets of the individual, transfers or other matters impacting the assets to date, review information and materials that may be presented and perform due diligence analysis prior to giving clients their options regarding strategies that may be available.
Powers of Attorney versus Guardianship
We are often requested to handle cases involving issues concerning Powers of Attorney versus Guardianship. Sometimes fiduciary relationships are created prior to and after written Powers of Attorney are executed. It is critical for all parties to understand how fiduciary relationships operate under the law, including a presumption of fraud that can be overcome by clear and convincing evidence. Sometimes certain entities may not recognize Powers of Attorney. In some situations, guardianships may be recommended. In that situation, we provide analysis and recommendations regarding the extent in which any guardianships may be appropriate, including limited, temporary or permanent, and ensure that matters are followed under the law. We are sometimes contacted by clients claiming that guardians have acted inappropriately and that guardianships should be terminated or reviewed by the Court. We have been involved in cases where we have filed pleadings and handled through trial removal of guardians or other fiduciaries for various reasons.
We have been requested to provide expert testimony concerning estate planning documents in regard to contested litigation. In that event, we have been chosen by a litigant, through their attorney, to review documentation and information, preliminary to giving a legal opinion within the context of contested litigation. We have given expert testimony in depositions and in trial.
Guardians for Minors and Disabled Adults
We have represented clients in regard to establishment of guardianships for minors. In those situations, pleadings are filed with the Court, a Guardian Ad Litem is appointed and a hearing is conducted to determine the extent to which a guardianship of the person and/or estate may be appropriate under these circumstances. If the child is disabled, and once the child may become an adult, then we can petition the Court to terminate the guardianship for the minor and proceed with guardianship for a disabled person, including so as not to disrupt protection of the interests of the minor child, then the disabled adult. We have represented many disabled adults, or their family members in regard to guardianships, involving millions of dollars. In those instances, there is a concern that assets be invested appropriately so as to ensure a reasonable rate of return and to avoid unnecessary risks in the investment strategy. There is also a concern in recognizing what the disabled minor or disabled adult would have wanted if he or she could communicate their wishes.
Many of our referrals are from past clients, trust companies or other financial institutions, accountants, financial planners and other attorneys.