robert w. maher
Attorney-at-Law  · Partner with the Law Firm Dyer & Maher.
Estate Planning

Estate planning is the process of anticipating and arranging, during a person's life, for the management and disposal of that person's estate during the person's life and at and after death, while minimizing gift, estate, generation skipping transfer, and income tax. Estate planning includes planning for incapacity as well as a process of reducing or eliminating uncertainties over the administration of a probate and maximizing the value of the estate by reducing taxes and other expenses. The ultimate goal of estate planning can be determined by the specific goals of the client, and may be as simple or complex as the client's needs dictate. Guardians are often designated for minor children and beneficiaries in incapacity.

Estate planning involves the will, trusts, beneficiary designations, powers of appointment, property ownership (joint tenancy with rights of survivorship, tenancy in common, tenancy by the entirety), gift, and powers of attorney, specifically the durable financial power of attorney and the durable medical power of attorney and living will.

WHAT OTHER PLANNING SHOULD I DO?

Make a list of your assets and debts. This can be extremely helpful when you are no longer around to provide such information. Make sure that your executor or other family members know where to find the list. Include your bank accounts, safe deposit boxes, stocks and bonds, real estate, and other assets on the list, including online accounts. Also, list the names and addresses of anyone to whom you owe money.

Make and circulate a list of your professional advisors. Letting your family members and professional advisors know the other professionals who you work with can improve communications and encourage teamwork among your advisers, streamline tasks being done for you, and ensure that the proper people are contacted in the event of your death, sickness or incompetence.

Set up a durable power of attorney for asset management. In this document, you would appoint another individual (the attorney-in-fact) to make property management decisions on your behalf if you ever become unable to do so. During your lifetime, the attorney-in-fact would manage your assets and be required to act solely in your best interests.

Consider preparing an advance health care directive / durable power of attorney for health care. This document allows the person named as attorney-in-fact to make health care decisions for you when you can no longer make them for yourself. It may also contain your wishes concerning life-sustaining treatment, other health care issues, organ donation, burial instructions and your funeral.