Delaware Law Office
of Larry D. Sullivan, Esquire


Wills and Trusts

Delaware estate planning involves working with individuals to determine their wants and needs and the coordination of services between a Delaware attorney and other financial professionals.

Because each person is an individual, and has individualized needs, it's important that planning begins with a discussion with a professional rather than with the forms row at your local stationary shop.

There are many different options available in an estate plan. Clients may choose as simple or as complex of a plan as they wish, but it is key to the process that the choice is made with the knowledge of those options that only a Delaware estate planning attorney can provide.

Here are some frequently asked questions regarding the estate planning process:

What is basic estate planning?

Estate planning is very important to most US citizens, though reports show that only 27% of us have a will when we die.

A last will and testament is the document most think of when they consider beginning the estate planning process. While a will is very important, a durable power of attorney is arguably more important. Another document which allows someone to declare their wishes as to life support issues is known as a living will.

These three documents make up the complete estate planning process for most people.

What is advanced estate planning?

After reviewing your financial situation, it's possible that you or your heirs would benefit from more than just a simple will. There are a number of legal tools that are available for this process.

What is proper estate planning?

It involves planning carefully with your Delaware lawyer to meet your goals. It requires a cooperative effort between you, your attorney, and other appropriate members of your estate planning "team" such as a financial planner, a life insurance agent, and a CPA.

The estate plan should not be thought of as a series of transactions in which the financial adviser "sells" investments, the insurance agent "sells" insurance, and the attorney "sells" a trust or a will. In my view, that is the wrong approach.

Instead of taking a transaction oriented perspective, you should view estate planning as an ongoing process that evolves as your needs, your goals, and your family changes, as the laws change, and as new estate planning tools and techniques are developed.

It is a process of continually evolving strategies. Proper planning requires professional thoroughness, which respects you and your family's overall well being.

In making your goals, you should consider the following:

  • Your control of your assets during your life.
  • A business exit strategy if you have an ownership interest in a business.
  • Providing instructions for your care and the management of your assets for you and your family if you become incompetent.
  • Protecting the assets that you leave to your spouse and children from creditors and unscrupulous persons.
  • A plan of distribution that will leave your assets to whom you want, when you want, and with whatever controls you want.
  • Avoiding probate
  • Saving the greatest amount of taxes and post death administrative costs possible -- not only in your own estate, but in the estates of your spouse and your descendants.

What do I need to know to arrange my last will and testament?

A will makes directions as to how a person's property is to be handled and disbursed upon his or her death. It can be as simple or complex as the individual wishes. An attorney can help you come up with the appropriate plan for you and your family.

Some things to think about before your meeting with a Delaware lawyer for a will are:

  • Who would you like to be in charge of processing your estate (executor)?
  • Who should take that person's place, if necessary (alternate executor)?
  • By whom do you want your property to be inherited (beneficiary)?
  • What different arrangements would you like made if your beneficiary dies before or at the same time that you die (alternative beneficiary)?
  • If you have minor children, who would you choose to be their guardian?
Will drafting