Longo Law Services

Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Affairs

A Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Affairs (DPOA) appoints someone you trust to handle financial and legal transactions on your behalf. You can choose to have it take effect immediately or only go into effect upon your subsequent incapacity. When used properly, the DPOA can avoid the need to establish a Conservatorship, and hence, is a very important document to have.

Advance Health Care Directive

The Advance Health Care Directive communicates your health care wishes and appoints an agent to carry out such wishes upon the inability to communicate with a treating physician. This document sets forth your decisions about artificial life support, types of treatment you may or may not allow, and other personal health care matters, well in advance of those questions ever arising. Not only does it ensure that your wishes will be heard, but prevents your loved ones from having to guess about what you would have wanted. In doing so, it prevents potential conflict within the family in a time of crisis. Any well planned estate will include an Advance Health Care Directive.

Wills

Simple Wills can be prepared in the ‘Testator’s’ own handwriting. Or, should the situation merit, an attorney can prepare a more formal Will for a client. However, if a person dies with a Will, and their Probate Assets are valued at more than $150,000, and not otherwise exempt, the Estate will have to go through the process known as ‘Probate.’ Probate is the court-supervised administration of a Decedent’s Estate. While it is a functional process, it is generally much slower and much more costly to administer an Estate through the Probate process as opposed to a Trust Administration.

Guardianships and Conservatorships

Generally speaking, guardianships are for minors whose parents are no longer caring for their children, or when a child stands to receive an inheritance from a probate estate or a pay-out under a life insurance policy. Conservatorships are created for adults who have become incapacitated. Both Guardianships and Conservatorships are established by court order, create a fiduciary relationship between the Guardian or Conservator and the minor or Conservatee, and have strict accounting requirements. Further, both require periodic reporting to the Court system. The reporting and accounting requirements have been subject to recent changes, which have been implemented to establish a better mechanism of protection for the person subject to the Guardianship or Conservatorship. While these processes can be at first daunting, with proper guidance and representation, a Guardianship or Conservatorship can be the best way to assist a family member through a time of need.

Business Entity Formation

Again, this is an area where a business owner can find many self-help Again, this is an area where a business owner can find many self-help legal document services that will claim that you can save money without an attorney. But what will be the cost of making important legal decisions with respect to your business without proper legal advice? A business entity can take many forms, including: Sole Proprietorships, Partnerships, Joint Ventures, Corporations, or Limited Liability Companies. Each form of business entity offers unique advantages, and also involves its own administrative formalities. Selection of the correct business entity when starting a new business is one of the most important decisions for a small business owner. Whether the business is a professional practice, a licensed trade, retail store, or real estate investment, all owners need to be educated as to their options, as well as the benefits and risks that any particular form of business entity can present. Experienced counsel is strongly recommended.

Corporations

There are two reasons that a business owner will incorporate: The first is to save money on income taxes; and the second is to limit the liability of the owners/ shareholders. In evaluating the decision to incorporate, we strongly advise that our clients properly evaluate their income and expenses, and work with a skilled income tax advisor. While a good errors and omissions, liability, and/or malpractice insurance policy is always prudent, the corporate form will provide the extra degree of comfort that many business owners need.

Limited Liability Companies

Similar to a corporation, a Limited Liability Company generally shields the owner/ membership interest holder from liabilities in excess of the LLC assets. However, also similar to a corporation, limited liability is not the only factor one should evaluate in selecting this form of business entity. For example, as single-member LLC’s are generally disregarded as separate entities for tax-paying purposes, many solely-owned businesses would be better organized as a corporation. On the other hand, LLC’s are particularly well suited to hold title to real estate held for investment purposes. As each client’s goals and needs are unique, we can help you with the distinct challenge of selecting and forming the most appropriate entity for your business endeavor.

Real Estate Transactions

Inter-family transactions, Option Agreements, Tenancy-In-Common Agreements, and advising clients on more intricate aspects of real estate sales/ purchase agreements are all areas in which Mr. Longo regularly practices.

Protection For Your Family

1. Probate Avoidance. While the court supervised administration of a decedent’s estate, a process otherwise known as ‘Probate’ is a functional method of handling the distribution of the wealth of a deceased loved one, it is not the most efficient in terms of time or money. A principal reason why people establish Trusts in today’s world is to avoid the duration and expense of the Probate Process. The cornerstone of this firm’s practice is the excellence in drafting and preparation of professional estate plans with the goal of probate avoidance in mind. 


2. ‘Blended’ Families. It seems that in today’s ever-changing world, the notion of a ‘family’ consisting of a married mother and father with several biological children is being proven to be less and less of the norm. Even if your family meets that description, there are always issues that will be better handled after your death if you had taken the steps to properly plan your estate before a time of crisis. Do you want your children to inherit all of your wealth at age 18? What happens if you die without a will or trust and your estate goes to the persons specified in the probate code as your ‘intestate heirs,’ and you either do not know those persons, or, for many potential reasons, do not want those persons to receive your worldly possessions and assets? What do you do if one of your children is disabled, or suffers from mental illness, or has issues with addiction? Skilled, professional, and effective estate planning is crucial to adequately deal with those issues. Those are the areas in which this firm will be able to provide you the quality of service that you require. 

3. Estate Tax Planning. The Federal Estate Tax, or sometimes called the ‘death tax,’ carries with it one of the highest tax rates of any of the various taxes that our government imposes on us. The Federal Estate Tax exemption amount for 2015 is $5,430,000 per individual. That means that an individual can pass that amount of wealth to their heirs and beneficiaries without estate tax. However, for every dollar of wealth over that amount, it is quite likely that an estate tax can be charged at the rate of 42% or more, depending on the tax laws in effect at the time of death. This firm regularly handles the representation of and estate tax planning for families whose net worth is up to $20 million. The starting point is always the preparation and maintenance of an appropriate revocable living trust. Additionally, such techniques as the use of Family Limited Partnerships (FLP’s) and/or other appropriate business entities, Qualified Personal Residence Trusts (QPRT’s), Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts (ILIT’s), Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts (GRAT’s), and maximizing the Annual Gift Tax Exclusion amounts to obtain Fractional Interest Discount Valuation are all transactions that we regularly employ to minimize our clients’ estate tax liabilities.