While it may be a difficult subject to address, planning for your future is extremely important. The sooner you begin the process the sooner you will have peace of mind in knowing your family and everything you worked for is properly protected.
At Rampulla & Newstad LLP, we use a number of proven strategies and tools to design customized, comprehensive estate plans that give our clients complete control over their assets and affairs while they are alive and after they pass away.
Stop worrying about tomorrow, and start planning today!
Last Will and Testament
A will is a foundational part of any estate plan because it allows you to specify who receives your assets after you pass away. It also allows you to name a guardian for any minor children if they are orphaned.
However, while a will is an important part of a comprehensive estate plan, it is not enough. One reason a will isn’t a complete plan to protect your interests is that a will is only valid after you die and it cannot provide control over your finances and care in the event of your incapacity. Nor does a will allow your heirs to avoid the frustration, delays, lack of privacy, and needless expense of probate.
There are many different kinds of trusts, each capable of helping you accomplish a wide range of planning goals. A revocable living trust, for example, will allow your estate to avoid probate and give you greater control over how and when your assets will be distributed. Whereas an irrevocable trust can provide you with robust asset protection against the high cost of long-term care, lawsuits, creditors, and other threats. We can help you both determine if a trust is right for you and the type of trust (or combination of trusts) best-suited to your unique needs and those of your family.
Powers of Attorney
Powers of attorney authorize individuals you appoint to make financial or health care decisions on your behalf in the event that you are unable to do so.
Individuals in New York and New Jersey can formally grant legal authority through a variety of instruments, including:
- Limited power of attorney — Authority granted in a specific area
- General power of attorney — Authority for all matters related to the grantor’s health and welfare
- Durable power of attorney — Authority that survives if the grantor is incapacitated or dies
- Healthcare proxy — Authority to decide matters related to the grantor’s medical care
A power of attorney may grant limited powers to your “agent” or broad powers to make a variety of decisions regarding the management of your finances and your medical care. So, it likely goes without saying that choosing your agent is a decision you shouldn’t make lightly. And it’s extremely important to keep your power of attorney document up-to-date so that it will accomplish its goals when you need it the most.
In order to execute a power of attorney, you must have capacity at the time it’s created. Therefore, it’s prudent to execute a power of attorney even if you feel you don’t need one. The standard, state available forms for establishing a power attorney are insufficient to protect your best interests. That’s where our firm’s personalized expert services stand above the rest – we will help you plan and protect your interests.
An advance directive is a legal document that specifies the type of medical and personal care you wish to receive if you lose the ability to make or communicate your wishes on your own. Your advance directive can also name the person who will make or communicate your wishes for you and set forth the types of care you do or do not want in an end-of-life situation.
A HIPPA Release document lets you specify the people in your life who are allowed to access your medical information. Without such a release, your loved ones, including your spouse, may find it difficult, if not impossible, to receive any information about your condition in an emergency or help ensure your wishes are followed.
At Rampulla & Newstad LLP, we have extensive experience using all of the above documents and more to design plans capable of protecting our clients, their loved ones, and their assets. To discuss your particular needs and goals, contact us for a personal meeting.
Estate Litigation & Contested Wills
Would-be heirs cannot challenge a will simply because the testator disappoints them. Estate litigation often occurs when a family member feels that the will is not valid and intends to object.
There are four main grounds for a will challenge:
- Defective formation — The will was not drafted, signed and witnessed in accordance with state law and is therefore invalid.
- Lack of capacity — The testator lacked full mental capacity at the time the will was signed or revised, so the document as it exists is invalid. In cases where the court invalidates a will revision, it may enforce an earlier, valid version of the will.
- Undue influence — A person close to the testator has used their position of influence to cause the testator to change a will for that person’s benefit.
- Fraud — The will is forged in part or whole.
We can help you navigate the process and assert your rights all without causing the estate to lose value through expensive litigation. If litigation is unavoidable, we can refer you to a top notch estate litigator.