Lawyers, accountants, financial advisors: each are trained to manage the "hard questions" of estate planning. If the client's intent is clear, or even perceivable, there is no doubt a planning mechanism can be created to bring it about. But getting to these hard questions is not always so easy. It is the "soft questions" of estate planning where the stumbling blocks lie. Balancing financial matters with broader individual needs and community concerns is the heart of my practice.
Susan E. Colson
Susan Edwards Colson's practice concentrates on Wills, Trusts and Estates. She brings with her over 30 years of legal experience, most recently in working with organizations, business, families and individuals engaged in various states of transition planning. Her mission is to protecting the financial resources, legal rights and dignity of her clients, as well as their families and caregivers.
A will is arguably the most basic part of an estate plan, which also includes a durable power of attorney, a healthcare directive (also known as a medical power of attorney), and potentially a trust. As part of writing a will, the will's creator identifies an executor or personal representative of the estate who will be charged with managing the estate and wrapping up the decedent's affairs, which includes identifying and resolving all debts and filing his or her tax returns.
Donors face many choices when they begin to consider how to carry out their philanthropic wishes. Both the type of charitable vehicle and the assets utilized are often subject to highly complex and rigorous tax requirements imposed under the Internal Revenue Code. We can help craft the best strategy to further their philanthropic objectives.
The estate planning process focuses on assets, but it is more, it is a rite of passage. Yes, individuals who are discussing their own mortality require competent legal assistance and viable planning techniques for transferring assets upon their deaths. But, after working with clients and their families, and their wealth managers, for years, I can truthfully say they also want help defining their lives, finding meaning and encouragement to deepen (or build) relationships with their loved ones.
Traditional estate planning, coordinating among the client's team of legal, tax, insurance and estate-planning specialists, is often a narrow approach. Comprehensive planning expands the approach and initial planning includes a discussion among both the benefactors and their adult beneficiaries with the help of professionals. Often clients need more to help them find their own answers. Once they have clarity about their wishes, intentions and family mission, they are in a much better position to move forward confidently and complete a satisfying plan.