Estate Planning for our Clients Needs and Wishes

Dear Clients and Friends,
They say you can’t teach “an old dog a new trick.” Well, as I enter my 31 st year of the practice of
law, I’m led to try a “new trick” and that is writing a blog for our firm’s website. The goal of this
blog will be to inform and entertain our clients and friends concerning our firm, its practice, its
lawyers and some of the legal issues our clients face. I will change the names of the parties to
protect client confidentially. Hopefully, the readers will find the issues and our handling of them to
be informative and helpful to understanding some of the legal problems many people face. If,
through this blog, we can help someone gain a better understanding of the legal and judicial process,
it will be worth the effort. This is true, because overall, our American System of Jurisprudence -
our laws, and our courts, are the best in the world. Every citizen has access to redress their concerns
regardless of their wealth, status or power. So, here goes!

Our practice is primarily geared to serving the needs of our clients in three areas: Estate Planning,
Real Estate, and Corporate or Business Law and the litigation that comes from those three areas.
For the first several blogs, I want to deal with Estate Planning and all that goes with that, such as:
preparation of wills, trusts, powers of attorney, health care directives, care for individuals under a
guardianship or while they are incapacitated and, finally, the administration of estates and trusts
after the testator or grantor dies. While not quite the circle of life, since our involvement often
begins with the planning of an estate by adult clients, we are still involved in a good portion of the
lives of our clients and their families after our client dies. It is a privilege to practice law and to
assist people in their planning of their estates. Our clients have lived such varied and diverse lives.
We’ve had clients who were billionaires, war heroes, former spies, writers, professional athletes,
world class sailors, actors, singers and of course, more normal types, such as, architects, teachers,
accountants, housewives and construction workers. But regardless of whether the client is rich or of
modest means, famous or unknown, their stories are interesting, and their families have experienced
great joys and deep sadness, closeness and distance, warmth and wrath.

Some estates are planned to give generously to charities, churches, universities and other
organizations; some solely to family members. Regardless of how they wish to leave their estates,
the client’s wishes are paramount, and we endeavor to accomplish their desires in the most effective
and efficient manner possible. From time to time, clients express concern over their children or
grandchildren’s ability to properly manage their inheritance. In that instance, we might recommend
the implementation of a trust whereby a trustee would manage the money for the beneficiary and
disburse to the beneficiary certain sums when certain age milestones are reached. For example, a
Minor Beneficiary Trust may be drafted whereby the pay outs would be 1/3 of the trust at age 25,
another 1/3 at age 30 and a final payout of the trust at age 35. One client who had expressed
concern over her son’s ability to manage money was interested in such an arrangement but asked if
those ages for payout were fixed or could she change them. I told her she could set the ages. She
said “Good. I don’t want him to get a penny until he’s 65!”

A recent trend we’ve seen in our firm is the interest in and concern of our clients for the continuing
care of their pets after the client dies. Thus, we have established Pet Trusts for several of our
clients. The Trust sets aside money for the care of the pets of the client after they are gone. This is
a great idea and a way to ensure the love and care for a faithful companion is continued for the life
of the pet. Any funds that remain after the pet dies can be given to family members or better yet,
donated to an animal shelter or adoption agency. What a way to leave a legacy to man’s and
woman’s best friends.

That’s all I wanted to say for this our first blog. I hope you found it interesting and enjoyable
reading. Please check back for additional blog messages. And, as always, I want to say thanks to
our clients and friends. If any reader has a legal matter or question, please let us know by emailing
us or giving us a call. If we can help, we will. If we can’t, perhaps we can refer you to someone
who can. If neither, well, it never hurts to say “Hello”.

Yours truly,
Jonathan S. Dean
Dean and Dean, LLP