Estate Planning Services for Portland, Maine and Beyond

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Lisa serves clients in Portland, Windham, Falmouth, Scarborough, and surrounding areas in Southern Maine

Lisa provides estate planning services for people and families of all income levels. Whether you are seeking legal services for a simple will, or you have significant assets you want to preserve, Lisa can help.

Lisa’s experience and reputation for excellence in the area of estate planning, administration and probate law can make the difference between a well crafted estate plan and one that falls short of your goals.

If you have not yet begun or completed your estate planning process, no matter your age, it is important that you start putting together an estate plan for you and your loved ones’ benefit. Without an estate plan, there can be a risk for major tax burdens, and the court will be left to decide who receives your assets, which can cause major family conflicts.

Lisa offers estate planning services in Portland, Falmouth, Scarborough, Raymond, Windham, and other areas in Southern Maine.

For more information, don't hesitate to contact Lisa!

Estate Planning Services in the Portland and Southern Maine Area

Wills

Put simply, an estate is everything that you own after payment of debts and taxes at the time of passing. Your Will lays out your decisions regarding how your estate is to be distributed to your beneficiaries. Your estate can include personal belongings, family heirlooms, real estate, and sums of money. It’s important to carefully consider to whom and how you would like your assets to be passed once you die and to be as specific as possible with your wishes.

Drafting a Will does not need to be complicated or expensive to be effective, and it will benefit your family and loved ones in the future. 

Contact Lisa today to discuss your options for drafting a Will that will be benefit both you and your family.

Financial Powers of Attorney

While your Will lets you appoint the person who will be responsible for the disposition of your assets after your death, a Durable Financial Power of Attorney lets you appoint the person who will manage your financial and living affairs if you become disabled or incapacitated during your life. This person is known as your Agent.

Under Maine law, you can give your Agent many powers, including, but not limited to, the power to pay bills, make gifts, make bank deposits, buy and sell real estate and securities, sign income tax returns, begin a legal claim, and make other important financial decisions. Your Power of Attorney can be very specific or very broad, depending on your wishes.

A Power of Attorney is only valid while you are alive and will terminate upon your death. At that point, the terms of your Will take effect.

Taking the time to prepare your Power of Attorney now, while you are healthy and able to do so, will make the process easier for your relatives and loved ones in the event of your disability or incapacity later in life.

Health Care Powers of Attorney

A Health Care Power of Attorney (sometimes called a Living Will), is a legal document letting you direct medical providers to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatment if you are in an end stage medical condition or a state of permanent unconsciousness. In your Health Care Power of Attorney, you designate another person, known as your Agent, to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to do
so yourself.

Preparing a Health Care Power of Attorney lets you to decide now what medical treatment you want in the future if you become incompetent or incapacitated. Failure to prepare a Health Care Power of Attorney may cause increased stress on your loved ones who are left to decide the proper medical treatment for you without your guidance.

In your Health Care Power of Attorney you can refuse all, or some, medical treatment such as cardiac resuscitation, artificial feeding, blood, kidney dialysis, antibiotics, surgery, diagnostic tests, and mechanical respiration. You can also direct your medical providers to administer treatment that will keep you comfortable and alleviate your pain at all times, regardless of the choices you make about medical treatment.

Your Health Care Power of Attorney can become effective when your medical providers determine you to be incompetent and in a terminal condition or a state of permanent unconsciousness, or if you choose, it can be effective immediately to enable your Agent to help you make health care decisions.
 
You can also use this document to designate who you would like to be your Guardian if one is needed in the future. As well, you can use it to designate what you wish to have happen to your body after your death in terms of organ donation, burial, types of memorial services you would like and other matters.

Trust Services in the Portland, ME Area

What is a Trust?

A trust can be an important estate planning tool. Basically, a trust is created when you (the Grantor) transfer property with the intention that it be administered by a Trustee for your or another person’s benefit. People have different reasons for creating trusts, such as to provide care and support for minors, to pay for educational expenses or medical expenses, to hold real estate, cash, investments and securities or other types of property, or simply to keep their legal and financial affairs private. Some people use a trust to protect their assets from lawsuits and to protect their assets from being taken away if they need to go into a nursing home. These matters can get complicated, but like many areas involving estate planning, doing it now can often keep issues from becoming actual problems later in life.

Trusts can be either living or testamentary. A living trust is a trust which is created, becomes operational, and is usually funded during the Grantor’s lifetime. A testamentary trust is a trust established after your death in accordance with the provisions of your Will.

Below is a summary of the some of the more common trusts used in estate planning:

Revocable Living Trust

This type of trust is created by you during your lifetime. You transfer assets, which can include personal property, real property, cash or other financial assets, to the Trustee to manage. You can serve as the Trustee of the trust as long as you have legal capacity. If you become incapacitated, a successor Trustee, specified in the trust document, would take over the management of the trust assets. Upon your death, the Trustee will make distribution of the assets or continue the trust in accordance with the terms of the trust.

The advantage of this type of trust is that it provides for the management of your assets and payment of your debts and other expenses during your lifetime. At your death, the assets can pass to your beneficiaries without the need to go through Probate. This type of trust, however, could have an adverse impact on your eligibility for MaineCare or other public benefits because the assets in the trust are countable to the Grantor as if you owned them outright.

Although you can dissolve or amend a revocable trust any time you choose as long as you’re still mentally competent, these trusts don’t protect against lawsuit liability or estate taxes the way irrevocable trusts do. By its very nature, you can reclaim the property you place into it at any time. The law, therefore, considers that you still personally own this property, so its value can be counted for purposes of qualifying for certain government benefits as well.

A revocable trust automatically becomes irrevocable at your death because you’re no longer available to make changes to it or revoke it.

Irrevocable Living Trust

An irrevocable trust is one that, by definition and design, can’t be amended, modified, changed or revoked. In other words, the written terms of the trust agreement are set in stone after the trust has been created, except under some isolated and rare circumstances.

An irrevocable trust can protect your assets if you work in a profession that puts you at risk for certain lawsuits - or even if you don’t. You can’t take the property back after you transfer ownership into an irrevocable trust, so it’s safe from creditors and anyone who holds a judgment against you if you want to ensure that it’s preserved for your beneficiaries. You no longer own it - the trust does, and a creditor or judgment holder can’t take property from anyone or anything that’s not a party to the lawsuit.

Assets you own count against you for purposes of qualifying for certain government benefits, such as MaineCare and Supplemental Security Income. Even if your estate is nowhere near large enough that estate taxes might become an issue, transferring assets out of your ownership can avoid depletion of your property to pay for nursing home care in your later years. An irrevocable trust can also protect assets for a special needs person when it’s designed in such a way as to avoid disqualifying that person for crucial government benefits.

Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts (ILITs)

An irrevocable life insurance trust is a trust that is set up as the owner and beneficiary of a life insurance policy. A client can make a cash gift to an ILIT to purchase a life insurance policy. When the client dies, the policy proceeds payable to the ILIT are excluded from the value of the estate for estate tax purposes.

These trusts reduce estate taxes by removing the proceeds of life insurance from a taxable estate. Instead, the trust owns the insurance policy. The beneficiary of the policy can be anyone, but the trustee must be someone other than the previous owner of the policy. The grantor cannot have any control over the policy once the trust is made, and the trust must exist for at least three years before the Grantor’s death.

Testamentary Trust

A trust created during the life of the Grantor, but that takes effect at the Grantor’s death, is a testamentary trust.  It is usually created in a Will - for example, a trust made to name a trustee for property left to a minor, or to hold real property for family use for multiple generation

Special Needs Trust

A Special Needs Trust is a trust created for the benefit of a disabled person who is receiving (or may be eligible to receive) government benefits. If you or a loved one receive such benefits, including Social Security, Medicare, or MaineCare, eligibility for these programs is often dependent on certain income and asset limits. Income and compensation from a personal injury settlement or other source - such as a part-time job - may actually disqualify you for the government support you need.

Creating a Special Needs Trust allows you or a loved one to continue receiving governmental support. Assets can be held in special needs trusts so the beneficiary can still get benefits for medical, housing and other services. The trust assets can then be reserved for extraordinary needs like special assistance on the job or other accommodations, vacations, entertainment devices and special clothing.

Following the disabled person’s death, if the original source of the funds in the trust came from the disabled person, any funds remaining will have to be used to reimburse the government for funds expended on behalf of the disabled person. If the original source of the funds in the trust was from someone other than the disabled person, the funds can usually pass to the people specified by the Grantor in the trust.

This type of trust can be either living or testamentary. 

If you would like to add a Trust to your Will or create a Living Trust, ensure you have someone to help the entire process go smoothly and according to your plans. Lisa J. Friedlander, Attorney at Law can explain the steps to create a Trust and can make suggestions that will help you make the best decisions for yourself, your Trustee, and your Beneficiaries.

For Estate Planning, Wills, Trusts, Probate & More, Give Lisa A Call!

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