As people age, they face complicated and sometimes frightening issues that can have a big effect upon them, their families, their health, their finances, and where they live. Our attorneys help them understand the issues and make good choices.
Estate planning is the process of arranging our financial and final affairs. It includes the use of legal documents to select decision-makers who will handle our affairs in the event of our incapacity during our lives, and after our death to distribute our assets according to our wishes. Our attorneys help our clients put together an estate plan to meet the clients’ individual personal and financial goals.
Wills and Other Final Documents
Important and powerful documents that every senior should have include a last will and testament, a durable general and financial power of attorney, a health care power of attorney, and a living will. Our attorneys help our clients understand the importance of and uses of each of these documents. They assist our clients with preparing them and putting them in place.
There is a lot of untrustworthy information out there about trusts. There are different kinds of trusts. Trusts can be useful in making sure an inheritance benefits only the intended persons, protecting assets, avoiding probate, and reducing estate taxes. But trusts are not for everyone or for every situation. Our attorneys help our clients decide if and what kind of trust is useful for them and, when appropriate, help clients create and fund them.
When someone has passed away, probate is the court-supervised process of gathering the person’s assets, appointing an executor, paying obligations, and distributing the remaining assets among the descendant’s beneficiaries. Our attorneys can assist our clients through the process from beginning to end.
There are a number of government programs that can provide important benefits to seniors. Our attorneys can help our clients identify those programs and apply for and obtain the benefits. The programs include Social Security, Medicare, the Department of Veterans Affairs Aid & Attendance Program, and Medicaid. There are legal ways for persons to preserve their assets and still qualify for Medicaid and the VA A&A pension. Our attorneys can help benefit applicants and their families protect as much of their assets as the law will allow and guide them through the application process.
For most seniors, their involvement with real estate is limited to protecting their homes, positioning them for eligibility for government assistance programs, and passing them on to their heirs. Among our attorneys is an experienced real estate professional who can help our clients with all of those needs.
For many people, and for most seniors, involvement in a lawsuit can be a financial disaster and traumatic experience. While it is rare that one of our clients becomes involved in litigation or even a serious legal dispute, our attorneys have litigation experience and can counsel them in these situations.
With the expiration of the Ohio estate tax at the end of 2012 and the increase in the exemption from federal taxation to $5,250,000, estate and gift taxation planning has become less critical for our clients. When needed, our attorneys have the expertise and experience to assist our clients on tax matters. In addition, Affinity Tax Services, LLC, one of the Affinity Advisory Network service providers, can help families with tax planning, projections, and tax return preparation.
Oil, Gas, and Mineral Rights
Recent years have seen a dramatic increase in interest among gas and oil producers in the extensive shale deposits of Northeast Ohio and the western Appalachian Basin. Many Affinity clients own homesteads or farms in these areas and have received approaches from landsmen interested in leasing their property to support drilling and fracking. One of our network attorneys worked for many years in the area of oil and gas financing and is in a position to help our clients assess their options.