Determining your estate plan is a difficult task, but our attorneys can make it easier. You should be aware of the different benefits of both wills and trusts before deciding on which option to pursue. The attorneys at Abendroth Russell Barnett Law Firm can work with you to craft a unique estate plan that best fits your needs and the needs of your family.

Click below for answers to frequently asked questions, or contact an attorney at Abendroth Russell Barnett Law Firm. 





Estate planning comprises three major areas: planning for incapacity, directing your wealth, and minimizing taxes. The process of estate planning inevitably raises some difficult emotional and personal issues. Others, particularly those you love, will be affected by the plans you make now and will be expected to exercise their own judgment once you are gone.

For a more information about estate planning, contact the attorneys at Abendroth Russell Barnett Law Firm.


Almost everyone needs some form of estate planning. You are never too young to think about estate planning. It is vital for every individual to be responsible enough to create a plan for themselves and their family.

For a more information about estate planning, contact the attorneys at Abendroth Russell Barnett Law Firm.


First, you should have contingent plans – a financial power of attorney, a health care power of attorney, and a living will – which nominate somebody else to help you make decisions. Through the power of attorney, you give a spouse, family member, or trusted friend the ability to help you with your finances should you become incapacitated.


If you are too ill to speak for yourself, you can express your wishes and have your voice heard through a living will. This advance directive lets you detail your preferences for your care. A Living Will should be accompanied by a health care power of attorney, which nominates a specific person to make medical decisions for you.


Second, you should have plans which direct your wealth. A Last Will and Testament directs the distribution of your assets upon your death. Without a Will, your property will be distributed according to state laws. In the alternative, you could use a revocable living trust to manage your assets and provide seamless transition of wealth that avoids the court system.


Lastly, you should ensure that death doesn’t cause unforeseen tax events. Your entire estate can pass to your spouse estate tax free. This deduction, however, does not eliminate the possibility that estate taxes may be due on assets transferred by your surviving spouse upon his or her death. Careful estate planning also minimizes inheritance tax and preserves the recipient’s basis for calculating capital gains taxes.


Each well-designed estate plan is also completely unique to an individual’s personal circumstances. When crafting an estate plan, you must consider the following questions:


How do you want to provide for and protect your spouse?

How do you want to provide for and protect your children?

Who will raise your children if they are still minors when you die?

Do you want to avoid probate?

Do you have a family business or farm?

Are you worried about the high cost of long-term care?

Do you need to protect your assets for lawsuits or creditors?


For a more information about crafting an individualized estate plan, contact the attorneys at Abendroth Russell Barnett Law Firm.



A will is a document containing instructions as to what should be done with your assets after your death. Your will is only used following your death.

The major benefit of a Last Will and Testament is that it gives you control to direct the distribution of your estate according to your wishes. Everyone should have this basic estate planning tool.

Perhaps most importantly, you can also use your Will to direct your assets to beneficiaries whom you choose, instead of those who are chosen for you by statute.

If you have no estate plan at all, your property will be distributed according to the laws of intestacy, without regard to family needs or your desires. A will allows you to manage your assets as you choose.

Our experienced attorneys can help you draft a will that meets your individualized needs.


One alternative to a will is a trust. Most trusts are created during one’s lifetime. A trust holds all of your assets while you are living and the assets are then distributed per the trust document after your death.

There are many types of trusts. One of the most common types of trust is a revocable trust. A revocable trust is an estate planning vehicle that is an alternative to a Last Will and Testament. It comes into effect while you are still alive, unlike a Will. Property and assets are transferred to the trust, to be held and administered by a Trustee for the benefit of another.

During your life, as long as you are able, you can serve as the Trustee of the Trust. You have full control over the trust assets, just as you would without a Trust. You can change the Trust at any time or revoke it altogether.

Upon your death, the Trust dictates the distribution of your assets. The Trust could be administered for the benefit of a surviving spouse or children, or could be liquidated and distributed.

Creating a trust can have several benefits. Consult with one of the experienced attorneys at Abendroth Russell Barnett Law Firm when choosing a trust for your estate plan.


A health care power of attorney (also called an advance directive) is a legal document that names a family member or trusted friend to make health care decisions for you if you are physically or mentally incapable of doing so.

An advance directive both states your health care choices in writing and designates someone to carry them out. Without a written advance directive, you have no control over who makes the decisions or what choices that person makes. Additionally, your spouse or family members may be unable to access information about your health.

A Durable Health Care Power of Attorney is a document through which you name another person to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to make them. In addition, a well-drafted health care power of attorney allows your agent to have access to your medical records.

Your agent is required to make decisions according to directions you provide. If your wishes are not known, your agent will make decisions in your best interest based on the discussions you have had with your agent. The document is “durable” because it is still effective even if you become incapacitated or incompetent.

Contact the attorneys at Abendroth Russell Barnett Law Firm to help you draft your advance directives.


A Living Will is a companion document that expresses in writing your directions for your medical care if you are unable to express your wishes yourself. It can direct your physician to withhold or withdraw certain life-sustaining procedures if you are in a terminal condition. However, it can be much more comprehensive than that, and can include what you want to happen in various situations.

A health care power of attorney gives your agent the authority to make a decision regarding your health care. The living will is your direction to the agent.

Advance directives are like a second set of keys to your car. You give them to someone you trust in case you can’t get where you need to go.

Contact the attorneys at Abendroth Russell Barnett Law Firm to help you draft a living will.


A durable financial power of attorney is an instrument in which you designate another person to act on your behalf. If you become unable to manage your own financial affairs, your agent can use the power of attorney to pay your bills, manage investments, and prevent the waste of your assets. Without a financial power of attorney, no one may be able to access your bank account, securities, or any other property in your name without lengthy and costly legal proceedings.

The power of attorney can be effective immediately upon its execution, or it can be triggered by an event such as incapacity. A financial power of attorney is “durable” because it survives disability.

Depending on the options you choose, your agent can also work with your financial advisor, help apply for benefits, and make long-term care arrangements for you.

Contact the attorneys at Abendroth Russell Barnett Law Firm to help draft a durable financial power of attorney.


Premarital agreements (also called “ante-nuptial” agreements) are legally-binding contracts entered into by an engaged couple prior to marriage. Prenuptial agreements accomplish the twin goals of asset protection and guaranteeing inheritance by children of a prior marriage. They can be vital estate-planning and wealth-preservation tools.


Marriage confers certain rights on the parties, including the right to claim one-third of the spouse’s estate at death (regardless of the terms of the deceased spouse’s Will) and certain rights in the other’s real estate. As a result, the party owning the real estate cannot sell or mortgage it without both spouses’ signatures on the deed or loan documents.


Previously thought of as a legal vehicle for only the wealthy, premarital agreements have become a popular and effective vehicle for people looking to protect their assets. These agreements are becoming more commonplace as people attempt to protect the potential inheritance of their children. Such an agreement, when properly prepared, can accomplish this and allow the wishes of your Will to be followed.


The attorneys at Abendroth Russell Barnett Law Firm can answer questions to see if a premarital agreement is right for you.