Law Office of Claudia I. Pringles

Estate Planning

[T]he Law Office of Claudia I. Pringles can assist you and your family with typical estate planning documents including:

  • Wills
  • Powers of Attorney
  • Advance Health Care Directives
  • Revocable Living Trusts and other Trust documents

Wills (Last Will & Testament)

A Will is a legal document used to distribute your property according to your wishes. Individuals who pass away ‘intestate’ (without a valid will) will have their property distributed by the default laws of the state of Vermont. A Will is also an important document for ensuring that children with special needs are accurately protected by directing property directly to a Special Needs Trust and appointing a future Guardian.

Special Needs Trusts

Special Needs Trusts are created to allow individuals with disabilities to access important government benefits. Assets placed in a properly drafted SNT are not counted against the individual for the $2,000 maximum allowable resource limit for SSI or Medicaid (including Katie Beckett and Dr. Dynasaur), allowing the individual with the disability to lead a higher quality of life.

  • Third Party Special Needs Trusts are funded by assets that do not belong to the person with a disability. Commonly used by parents who wish to leave something for their child with the disability through their Wills, gifts or life insurance. Third Party Trusts can also receive contributions from other family members, such as grandparents, who wish to contribute to the lifelong needs of the family member with the disability. The person or person who creates the trust decides who the initial and successor trustees will be. The person creating the trust can also decide who would be the next beneficiary(ies) after the passing of the person with the disability.
  • Self-Settled Special Needs Trusts are funded by assets that currently or at one time belonged to the person with a disability. For example, an outright inheritance, a court settlement, the child’s own earnings or the child’s accumulated SSI checks. The biggest distinction between this SNT and the 3rd party SNT is that these types of Trusts require the State of Vermont to be paid back for any Medicaid expenses from anything that is left in the Trust at the passing of the person with the disability.

A Durable Power of Attorney is a legal document which permits an agent to perform transactions on behalf of another adult (called the principal). A POA can be very broad or very narrow and can survive the incapacity of the principal if it is a Durable Power of Attorney. This is an important document for any adult in the event of temporary or long-term incapacitation, including spouses, as marriage alone does not generally permit a spouse to conduct transactions on behalf of the other spouse. Typical transactions include: banking, mortgage, home sale or purchase and many other transactions.

Advance Health Care Directives, in some states known as Living Wills, are a specialized type of Power of Attorney for healthcare decisions. This is an important document for any adult over age 18 in the event of temporary or long-term incapacitation. The selected agent would need to follow specific instructions or can be given broader discretion to make important health related decisions on behalf of the principal. The powers may include: life support, the use of morphine, burial, cremation, organ donations, and more.

Revocable Living Trust (RLT): An RLT allows for an individual (a Grantor) to serve as Trustee during their lifetime and while they are in capacity. In the event the Grantor becomes incapacitated, a Successor-Trustee will step-in and manage the trust for the benefit of the Grantor and in a manner specified in the document. At the passing of a grantor, assets held in the trust are distributed or kept in the trust according to the Grantor’s instructions. Although the RLT is typically used for probate avoidance to ease the transition of property to survivors, this flexible document can extend well beyond the life of the Grantor and can be used to manage trust funds for survivors in accordance with Grantor’s wishes.

Ms. Pringles is a frequent speaker on this topic and can present workshops for families and professionals. To request a workshop, please see our contact page.

 

Disclaimer:

The Law Office of Claudia I. Pringles presents the information on this website as a service to members of the general public. Use of this site does not constitute, in any manner, an attorney-client relationship between the Law Office of Claudia I. Pringles and the user. While the information on this site is about legal issues, it is not intended as legal advice or as a substitute for the particularized advice of your own counsel. This web site could include inaccuracies or typographical errors and are not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up-to-date. Anyone seeking specific legal advice or assistance should retain an attorney.