Estate Planning


Where to begin?

Estate planning is the process by which an individual establishes and puts into effect objectives for the management and disposition of assets upon his or her passing. It also encompasses planning for the management of assets during one’s life.

During the estate planning process, we will work with you and your other advisors including attorneys, investment advisors and insurance professionals to review your goals and objectives and establish a plan for accomplishing your goals.

At the end of the cycle we’ll work with your other professional advisors in seeing that your plan is carried out upon your passing. We work hand in hand with your chosen executor and/or trustee to ease their job in administering your estate.

We see this as a most important duty, and we are honored to work with your designees in achieving your goals.

How We Help

The starting point of a solid estate plan is the establishment of specific goals and objectives.

We begin by asking a few simple but critical questions:

To whom should your assets pass when you are gone?

Should the assets pass directly or into a trust?

Who should manage the assets while they are in transition?

Have you considered all of your assets?

Who should manage your assets if you become incapacitated?

Think about:

  • Personal property
  • Real estate holdings
  • Intangible assets, such as bank accounts, stocks & bonds
  • Digital assets, such as online investment accounts and online social media accounts

Planning Checklist

  • Do you have a will, and have you chosen executors and trustees?
  • Is your estate plan designed to take full advantage of all tax deductions and exemptions?
  • Have you considered a living trust, and if so, have you assigned assets in the trust’s name?
  • Are you taking advantage of the annual gift tax exclusion by creating trusts that qualify?
  • Do you have adequate life insurance, and/or are you utilizing an irrevocable life insurance trust to prevent proceeds from being taxed in your estate?
  • Have you considered gifting assets that are likely to appreciate in the future?
  • Would a charitable trust be right for you?
  • Do you have a succession plan for your business?
  • Have you reviewed your estate plan recently?

Postmortem Checklist

  • Locate necessary documents, including wills, trust instruments, life insurance policies, stock certificates, etc.
  • Gather and inventory assets.
  • Inventory all safe deposit boxes.
  • Open a bank account in the name of the estate, if necessary.
  • Pay claims of creditors, debts, etc.
  • File insurance claims (life, medical long-term care, etc.)
  • Obtain date-of-death values for assets, and obtain appraisals as needed.
  • File a Federal estate tax return within nine months of date of death.
  • File state inheritance and estate tax returns when applicable.
  • Create plan for distribution of assets to beneficiaries.
  • File income tax returns for the decedent and his or her estate.
  • File appropriate settlement documents to close the estate.


Betsy Brosnan, Partner