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An Overview about Estate Planning: An Interview with Stewart Glenn of Glenn & Breheney PLLC

By Stewart Glenn

Tell us a little bit about your company and its foundation.

Tell us a little bit about your company and its foundation. My partner, Mary Fern Breheney, Esq. and I established a new firm eight years ago to allow us to practice our chosen fields of law: real estate, estate planning, wills and trusts, estate and trust administration and elder law in a small firm setting featuring personal service. We have been fortunate to retain three excellent employees, two paralegals and an office manager. While the firm is relatively new, together the two principals have more than 50 years of experience in areas of the law in which the firm practices. Much of our business comes by word of mouth from satisfied clients.

Can you briefly state for our readers a generalized definition of estate planning?

Can you briefly state for our readers a generalized definition of estate planning? Estate planning involves examining one's assets and income and devising a plan to provide for the future needs of the client and his or her family. This includes financial matters such as: will the client have enough to live in the manner in which the client desires to live upon retirement; learning about the client's family tree and the client's family goals in order to advise how planning documents should be drafted; planning for guardians for minor children in the event something happens to the parents; planning in light of the estate tax, income tax and gift tax laws; including client's wishes about who is to receive particular assets (e.g. Uncle John's antique watch, the summer cabin in the Adirondacks, gifts to the client's favorite charities, etc.); planning for those with special needs or those who are loved , but who are spendthrifts; deciding who will be in charge of carrying out client's instructions upon his or her death (e.g. executor or trustee); and deciding if a will, a trust or both should be drafted for the client and what advance directives are needed. Frequently estate planning is a team effort with two or more of client's attorney, certified public accountant, life insurance professional, financial planner and/or bank trust officer working together for the benefit of the client.

At what age should you start planning your estate details?

At what age should you start planning your estate details? Estate planning should start as soon as one has issues that need attention or assets to pass on to others if one dies. Many young people with few assets do not think they need to have a plan. I often ask young people, if something happens to you and your spouse, have you named a guardian for your children? This usually spurs them into action. The important thing is to know that an estate plan is something that evolves. I advise clients to review their estate planning documents at least once a year to determine if a change is needed due to a change of circumstances.

How is estate planning different from the creation of a will?

How is estate planning different from the creation of a will? Execution of a will is one element available for the establishment of an estate plan. Other elements which could be used are various types of trusts (revocable, irrevocable, etc.) and advance directives (a durable general power of attorney, a health care proxy, etc.).

Are there different types of estate planning lawyers?

Are there different kinds of estate planning lawyers? Most estate planning lawyers are involved with the same types of planning matters. Lawyers could, however, choose to concentrate on certain aspects of planning such as dealing primarily with farmers, very wealthy people or those who own closely held businesses and need succession planning.

How do estate planning laws vary from state to state?

How do estate planning laws vary from state to state? (give an example). Some aspects of estate planning are the same in all states. The Internal Revenue Code will be the same for all states. Each state, however, will have its own laws pertaining to execution and interpretation of Wills, Trusts and advance directives, transfer of title to real estate and other matters. For example, the language used in the New York Health Care Proxy is different than the language used in a similar instrument in Florida.

What is the best way for people to reach you and or your company?

What is the best way for people to reach you and your firm? We are easy to reach. By telephone, (845) 561-1951, through our website www.glennbreheneylaw.com, or by fax, (845) 561-5651. If you leave a message after hours, we will get back to you during the next business day.

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Phone: spglenn@glennbreheneylaw.com

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