Google Search
Justia Law Firm Web Site Designs

Practice Areas

As an Estate Planning and Elder Law Attorney, I provide comprehensive legal counsel and advice regarding your estate planning, as well as the documents that are necessary to protect you and your loved ones.  These documents can include Wills, Trusts, Supplemental Needs/Special Needs Trusts, Powers of Attorney, Living Wills (end-of-life wishes), Beneficiary Deeds, Beneficiary Designations, as well as other documents. Documents are customized to your needs and wishes.  Although Probate often can be avoided with proper planning, I handle Probate matters, on a case-by-case basis, when it is necessary for all or part of an estate to go through probate. 

I also handle Adoptions, Name  and Gender Changes on identity documents, and Real Estate matters for individuals, as well as some other matters on a case-by-case basis.

Below is a brief description of my primary areas of law.  For a particular practice area, click on the link to that practice area for more details.

Estate Planning

I provide comprehensive estate planning advice and drafting to protect you and your loved ones. I have many years of experience attending to the special concerns and needs of LGBT families and individuals.

The services that I provide include:

Discussing your wishes and advising you regarding your decisions. The initial consultation usually lasts one to two hours.  Sometimes a follow-up appointment is needed if you cannot make all of your decisions during the initial consultation. 

Drafting the legal documents needed to carry out your goals, such as a Will, Trust, Joint Qualified Spousal Trust, Powers of Attorney, Living Will, Nomination of Conservator and Guardian, Real Estate Deeds, Beneficiary Designations for life insurance or retirement accounts, and other documents as needed. 

Counsel and advice regarding long-term care planning for yourself or your loved ones, including planning for Medicaid and, if needed, drafting a Supplemental Needs/Special Needs Trust for one or more beneficiaries.

Advice regarding titling of assets, pay-on-death and transfer-on-death designations, and transfer of property into joint or tenants by the entireties ownership.

Instructions as to what to do with each of your signed documents.

Click on the "Estate Planning," "Powers of Attorney," "Medicaid Planning," and "Real Estate" links for more information.

Powers of Attorney

Comprehensive estate planning normally includes one or more Powers of Attorney, and a Nomination of Conservator and Guardian.  In addition, it may include a Living Will (also called a Health Care Directive), if you wish to give instructions as to end-of-life issues.
 
A Power of Attorney is a notarized document that gives another person (your "attorney-in-fact" or "agent") the power and authority to act in your behalf, without court supervision.   The powers you give to another person in a Power of Attorney can pertain to health care decision-making when you cannot make your own decisions, or to handling your financial affairs.

A Nomination of Conservator and Guardian is a document that states the names of the person or persons you would want the probate court to appoint as your conservator to manage your financial affairs or a your guardian to make health and personal welfare decisions for you, if the judge finds that you are disabled or incapacitated.  A court-appointed Conservator or Guardian remains under the supervision of the Probate Court.

To be effective in Missouri, these documents must comply with certain technical requirements of the law.                    

Click on the "Powers of Attorney" link for more information.

Same-Sex Marriage, Domestic Partnerships, and Civil Unions

This section of my website focuses on the Supreme Court's same-sex marriage decisions and what they mean for same-sex couples. It also discusses what you should do if you entered into a prior Domestic Partnership, Civil Union, or Marriage with a person other than your current partner or spouse.

Click on the "Same-Sex Marriage" link for more information. 

Elder Law

My Elder Law practice is informed not just by my legal training and knowledge, but also by my insights and experiences resulting from dealing with the disabilities and end-of-life issues of my mother (who had Alzheimer’s disease for 16 years), my father (who had type II diabetes and Parkinson’s disease), my mother-in-law (who died suddenly and unexpectedly of a major stroke), and my father-in-law (who died after declining for a number of years with increasing dementia).   I have been involved with the St. Louis Alzheimer’s Association since 1994, and have been an active member of its Public Policy Committee for over 10 years.


As part of my Elder  Law practice, I advise regarding estate planning issues, including planning for incapacity.  I draft a Will or Trust that states your wishes as to the distribution of your assets upon your death, and non-probate transfers such as beneficiary designations.  My office also drafts Powers of Attorney that state the person(s) who is to make decisions for you when you are no longer able to make your own decisions, and living wills (end-of-life directives) that state your wishes as to end-of -life care.   Since Medicare does not pay for long-term custodial care, an important part of my Elder Law practice is giving advice regarding long-term care planning, including Medicaid rules.   (Since Medicaid rules are complex and very restrictive,  an elderly person or a person with disabilities can take actions that affect his/her future eligibility for Medicaid if s/he does not have proper advice.)  

Click on  the "Elder Law," "Estate Planning," "Powers of Attorney," "Medicaid Planning" "Probate," and "Real Estate" links for more information.

Medicaid Planning and Supplemental Needs Trusts

Medicare and private health insurance do not pay for long-term custodial care in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, or at home.  A person needing long-term custodial care in a nursing home must pay the nursing home costs from his/her own resources, or with the help of a Long-Term Care Insurance Policy, until s/he qualifies for Medicaid.

Medicaid (called MO HealthNet in Missouri) helps pay for for nursing home costs only for those who are disabled, blind, or over 65 years of age, and generally requires that the person have very few assets.

In general, a person cannot give away money or other assets ifn order to qualify for Medicaid nursing home benefits.   Proper planning, including a Supplemental Needs Trust (Special Needs Trust) can avoid this result.

Click on the "Medicaid Planning" link for more information.

Real Estate

I draft Real Estate Deeds, and review real estate sale contracts. (I do not, however, handle landlord-tenant matters, property line disputes, or claims against contractors.)

Click on the "Real Estate" link for more information

Adoptions

I have been handling step-parent adoptions of children since 1998, including for lesbian and gay parents. 

Click on the "Adoptions" link for more information.

Name Change and Gender Marker Change

My office provides advice and representation for name changes and gender marker changes. 

Click on the "Name Change and Gender Marker" link for more information.

Probate

A Probate Court proceeding is necessary to distribute those assets of a deceased person (decedent) that are titled in the decedent's name alone without a designated beneficiary.  A Probate Court proceeding also is required to distribute checks or other assets received in the decedent's name after s/he has died, including tax refunds, and to pursue lawsuits or other claims that the decedent had pending at the time of her/his death. 

A Will does not avoid probate, but instead states how any assets that are probated are to be distributed after your death.  For a Will to be enforceable in Missouri, a Petition to Probate the  Will must be filed within one (1) year of the decedent's death.  If no Petition to Probate the Will is filed within one year, then the Will has no legal effect in Missouri.

There are, however, various techniques for avoiding probate.  It is important that any non-probate transfer documents that you sign are consistent with your overall plans.

The Probate Court also handles various other matters, including guardianship and conservatorship proceedings.

Click on the "Probate" link for more information about probate, and click on the "Estate Planning" link for a list of some types of non-probate transfers.

Practice Area

Practice Area