Estate Planning / Wills and Trusts

Estate Planning

As an estate planning attorney, Patricia Scoles guides her clients through the decision-making process that will document their wishes, avoid court involvement, and minimize or eliminate estate taxes and probate expense. Creating an estate plan is a careful, deliberate process of anticipating every situation that may arise. Without guidance from an estate planning attorney, financial decisions regarding one’s assets can be turned over to an individual nominated by the court.

Regardless of the size and extent of your assets, a comprehensive financial estate plan will protect them for the benefit of your beneficiaries; persons or charitable organizations. An estate plan prepared by someone without the proper qualifications as an estate planning attorney can result in enormous and costly consequences. With over 25 years of experience, Patricia Scoles examines all changes in civil law and estate legislation as they pertain to her clients.

Getting married later in life can lead to financial and legal considerations much different from younger couples. Each party can enter the marriage with sizeable estates and their own heirs. Perhaps a prenuptial agreement or trust is appropriate when there is a new spouse involved later on to ensure that the heirs receive their inheritance. An estate planning attorney, Ms. Scoles counsels this category of “baby boomers” on long-term care, social security benefits, pension funds, alimony, child support and college aid. Often real estate holdings are combined leading to questions about joint tenancy with rights of survivorship and tenancy in common.

Wills and Living Trusts

Documenting your wishes in a will or trust is one of the most important deeds in your life. Preparing a “Last Will and Testament” is an age-old tradition. In today’s world of complicated laws and constant changes in our lives, wills and living trusts protect the living heirs. This is one important area of an estate plan that should not be a “do-it-yourself” endeavor. Wills and trusts are legal documents which should be prepared only by a qualified estate planning attorney.

While a will is signed, witnessed and notarized, it is revocable and can be altered at any time during one’s lifetime. A living trust administers an estate for someone’s lifetime and after their death; also naming a successor upon one’s death without court intervention. Planning for a living trust will avoid probate and the expense and inconvenience of the distribution of an estate by a court. It also prevents your private financial matters from becoming public record. A trust can also prevent action from creditors with regard to personal and family assets that may be at risk through a professional liability or claims from family members or others with whom you do not wish to share those assets.

Preparing a will or trust without the advice of an estate planning attorney has the potential for mistakes that can end up costing the parties involved far more than the perceived savings in legal fees. Life changes with marriage, divorce, birth and death. Assets come and go and tax laws change. The Law Offices of Patricia M. Scoles helps you begin anew or update your existing wills and trusts.