Estate Planning involves several important goals:
The first step in the process is an in-depth consultation with an attorney to discuss both your needs and your desires. We can advise you about things you may not have thought about before---how your bank accounts and retirement accounts will be distributed upon your death, how to pass your real estate on to your heirs, and how to minimize the costs of "probate."
The legal documents we can prepare for you will allow you to preserve and dispose of your assets as you wish upon your death. This enables you to keep your accumulated wealth within your family and to give to charitable causes that are important to you.
We can also prepare documents that allow you to affect the future of your children in many ways after your death. We can prepare support trusts, supplemental or special needs trusts for children with disabilities, guardianship preferences and provisions, and many other features to give you peace of mind about your childrens' futures, in case you are not there to guide and nurture your children personally.
We can prepare documents that will help you to manage your financial affairs and assets in the event that you become unable to personally manage affairs due to illness, injury, or simply old age. We can prepare the necessary powers of attorney to allow a trusted family member or friend to manage your assets and affairs on your behalf as a "fiduciary."
Finally, we can prepare legal documents that allow you some control over your health decisions and the end of your life, even though you are not able to personally make those decisions when the time comes.
ELDER LAW AND SPECIAL NEEDS PLANNING
"Elder Law" is a relatively new term, and it describes an area of the law associated with aging. In Elder Law, we focus on helping the individual plan for the services he or she will need in the latter years of life. A common Elder Law service is "Medicaid planning" in which we advise the client how to preserve assets and still qualify for Medicaid so that the care needed late in life can be obtained. Medicare does not pay for nursing home care, and a nursing home will rapidly deplete one's financial estate unless the proper planning is performed ahead of the need.
Special Needs planning is often used to provide for an individual with disabilities. Attorney Bob Bollinger has a son with cerebral palsy and he is very familiar with the need to plan for a disabled child's supplemental needs, while keeping him eligible for government programs. Many people with disabilities rely on government programs such as SSI and Medicaid to live. A gift to the disabled person may destroy his or her eligibility for the programs that keep the disabled person housed and healthy. These disabled family members need a "Special Needs Trust" or "Supplemental Needs Trust" into which their own money, or gifts from third parties, can be deposited.
SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY (SSD) and SUPPLEMENTAL SECURITY INCOME (SSI)
We have experience representing clients before the Social Security Administration. The primary practice
area of our firm has historically been workers' compensation. We have represented many of our
workers' comp clients on their SSD claims. But SSI (Supplemental Security Income) can also be a
key part of an estate plan for a disabled individual. A claim for SSI is often made on behalf of disabled children.
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