Estate Planning Advice and FAQs

Mark L. Hoffman answers all your questions about Estate Planning, Elder Law, and Business and Property Transaction Matters. Contact us.

Fees and General Questions

  • What should I bring to my first meeting?
    When you schedule an appointment with us, you will be advised on the types of information and documents that are needed for a meeting.
  • What should I expect after my first meeting?
    You can expect a detailed engagement letter that outlines your service needs. A brief analysis of any documents reviewed, your legal options, an estimate of your legal fees, and potential court costs and out-of-pocket expenses also will be provided. You are required to sign and return the engagement letter before services are provided.
  • Will I know my legal fees upfront?
    Yes. We estimate all your legal fees, potential court costs and out-of-pocket expenses prior to service.
  • Will all of our discussions remain confidential?
    Yes. We maintain the strictest levels of privacy and confidence.

Estate Planning

  • Why not use the Internet for my estate plans?
    Find out the Top 10 Reasons Why the Internet is Full of Traps when it comes to estate planning.
  • At what age should I start estate planning?
    Age 18. Parents have no legal authority once a child turns 18.
  • Are Trusts only for rich people?
    No. The most important reason for a Trust is to manage the distribution of your assets. Though it’s a great tool to reduce state and federal death tax liabilities, all people can benefit from a Trust. Without a Trust, your minor children must have a court-appointed financial Guardian. They will gain control of their inheritance at age 18 whether they are ready or not.
  • Can Trusts provide protection in second marriages?
    Yes. A Trust enables you to use your assets to benefit your spouse while he or she is alive, while making sure your kids from a prior marriage are protected. A Prenuptial Agreement also may be necessary.
  • What are the Top 4 benefits of a Trust? 
    1. It’s easier to control and specify your predetermined distribution of assets.
    2. It avoids Probate.
    3. It offers privacy ( it is a private agreement that isn’t shared among family members or recorded in a court).
    4. It can provide lawful tax deferral or avoidance (however, this is constantly changing due to new tax laws).
  • What Is a Special Needs Trust?
    A Special Needs Trust provides for a special needs child or adult without the loss of government benefits.
  • What is Probate?
    Probate is a court-supervised process that involves proving a Will, appointing an executor and settling an estate after someone has died. It is often not used if there has been strong estate planning.
  • Do I need a Power of Attorney?
    Yes. A Power of Attorney appoints someone to handle your financial transactions with you now or if you are unable to do so in the future.
  • Do I need a Will?
    Yes. In the absence of a Will, the Probate Court must appoint a bonded administrator who may or may not be a family member. Distribution of your assets and debts is determined by statute and not by you.
  • Do I need Advanced Directives, such as Health Care Powers of Attorney and a Living Will?
    Yes. With these documents, you may avoid having a guardianship or having your medical advisors guess your intentions.

Elder Law

  • Will my parents lose their life savings if they need long-term care?
    It is a case-by-case situation. We can help protect your elderly loved one’s assets by discussing and implementing various options.
  • Why is Medicaid Planning important?
    Medicaid planning may help ensure that your elderly loved one’s assets are protected, while remaining eligible for these government benefits when he/she needs them.
  • What should I do if I suspect a form of elder abuse?
    Contact a lawyer and, perhaps, the police or adult protection services immediately.

Business and Property Transactions

  • Which type of business offers the best tax advantages: Partnership, LLC, S Corp, C Corp, or Nonprofit Corp?
    There is no one answer. The type of business entity you choose can impact your income tax, capital gains tax, and state taxes.
  • When should I create a succession plan for my business?
    The day you open the door for business. Think of it as an estate plan for your business.