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Wills and Estate Planning

Wills

This longstanding facet of law, often known as “Last Wills and Testaments,” is all about people and their heartfelt desire to carefully give away all the assets that they have acquired during their lifetime in a manner that will bless others when they pass.  Cooper’s role in this legal process is to give people valid and lasting solutions so that they can feel more confident about their future and the future of their loved ones.  For the great majority of people, having a Will is still the best way to plan for your loved ones’ future.

“In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes.”  These famous words once spoken by Benjamin Franklin still hold true today, but given the complexities of modern-day life, it is not always easy for the individual to determine how to plan for these certainties. Having helped people with their Wills for twenty-five years, I can wisely help you take the uncertainties out of your Will-based estate planning.

  • I can draft your Will so that you can be assured that your Will shall be valid -and shall clearly state what you want;
  • The tax laws have changed in recent years and your current Will may no longer best suite your needs.  In a case like this, I can modify or replace your Will and bring it into alignment with the current tax laws, modern and improved Will laws, and with your current wishes –which may have changed with the passing of time . . .  in effect,  putting to rest any disputes about prior, obsolete, or outdated wills or trust plans;
  • I can give you the confidence -and an absence of worry- that your Will will be flexible enough to meet your wishes over time, while also being expertly drafted in a way that it will not become outdated or ineffective with time;
  • I can also provide you with a Will that will enable you to give to charitable causes or friends or relatives that would not otherwise share in your estate (which would occur if you died without a Will).

 Estate Planning

Having a complete estate plan in place prior to your death can be one of the greatest gifts you can leave for your loved ones.  And for certain clients, a Will may not be sufficient to deal with their complex circumstances and desires.  In these cases, I can provide my clients with a wide range of estate planning services, incorporating additional time-proven testamentary instruments such as: the various types of specifically crafted Trusts, Limited Liability Companies (LLC),  Succession Plans, and time and event obligated Contracts (“Testamentary Instruments”).

I have been drafting these types of Testamentary Instruments for people, for decades. Some of the latter legal instruments are much better suited than a Will for complex circumstances, such as clients dealing with blended families; clients dealing with family members they wish to exclude from an estate plan; clients dealing with the planning and succession of family businesses; clients dealing with philanthropic opportunities; and with similar types of fairly complicated testamentary situations.

Proper Estate Planning can provide you with peace of mind and help you avoid costly future estate litigation and tax liability. During your initial estate planning conference with me you will learn what the process of probate administration entails and the possibilities for avoiding probate, if that is desired. You will be given the opportunity to designate the person(s) who shall administer your estate or trust, who shall serve as guardian of minor children or incapacitated persons, who may serve as your agent under a power of attorney, and who shall make medical and health related decisions for you in the event you are unable to do so. Your estate plan will be based upon your unique personal and financial situation and will be tailored to your needs.

To best help me help my clients, I begin all my estate planning projects by reviewing the client’s existing testamentary estate plan.

Probate and Trust Administration:

The post-death administration and transfer of assets pursuant to a Will or another Testamentary Instrument, often has complex legal and interpersonal circumstances to be dealt with.

In addition to, or as part of assisting with formal and summary probate administrations and trust administrations, the following is a list of some of the issues I can assist with:

  • Intestate distribution (when the decedent leaves no will);
  • Will contests, breach of fiduciary duty suits, and other probate and trust litigation;
  • Procedures to avoid and limit the possibility of a will contest or other litigation;
  • Responsibilities and liabilities of the personal representative or trustee;
  • Rights and limitations of beneficiaries;
  • Marshalling and preserving assets;
  • Business continuity for the decedent’s enterprises;
  • Evaluating issues concerning property exempt from creditors;
  • Elective Share of surviving spouse;
  • Family Allowance;
  • Disclaimers;
  • Minimizing estate taxes;
  • Final Accountings;
  • Timing of distributions;
  • Obtaining receipts and releases;
  • Closing estates and trusts

I am well experienced and I have acute sensitivity in all the above matters; this can be invaluable. I also have a breadth of experience beyond Testamentary Dispositions, and thoughtful problem solving abilities; these attributes help me more fully assist personal representatives, trustees, and or family members, in avoiding the numerous pitfalls that may, but are sometimes not, apparent to the client.

I can also wisely assist beneficiaries and creditors in probate and trust matters.