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Estate Planning and Probate

estate planning lawyers

Estate Planning and Probate

Everyone should have a will. From simple to complex plans, Dworken & Bernstein’s first-rate team provides customized estate plans for clients.

Crafting an estate plan can be an art. Some plans are simple, but for many families, more creativity is needed. The estate planning lawyers at Dworken & Bernstein take the client’s goals, add formal education, plus the insights that come from 60 Years’ experience working with families and businesses to create estate plans that uniquely address family needs and business succession. Among our tools are documents such as wills, trusts of various sorts, and powers of attorney. We plan for your next generation, explore your alternatives and determine an estate plan that best works for you.

If you’re wondering “do I need an estate planning attorney?” contact Dworken & Bernstein for a complimentary consultation to learn about how we can help you protect the people you love and accomplish your estate planning goals.

Wills and Trusts

Everyone should have a will.

Regardless of wealth, physical assets, age, or situation a will is the simplest and easiest way to convey your wishes. Why?

  • You direct who cares for your kids. If both parents should pass without a will, that issue may not be so straightforward.
  • You decide who gets what, hopefully sidestepping family squabbles.
  • When you make your wishes known, you can shorten the estate administration process.
  • Potentially, you can minimize estate taxes.
  • You decide who will wind up your affairs.
  • You can disinherit someone who might inherit if you do not have a will.
  • You can donate to causes you care about.
  • By having a will you can fend off shady claimants who may come out of the woodwork.

Don’t procrastinate. If a family’s provider dies or becomes disabled unexpectedly without an estate plan in place it adds even more stress on your family at the time of bereavement. Schedule an appointment to review your case today.

Review your will every 5 to 7 years or after a life change.

Things change. To avoid unintended outcomes, your will should consider any changes in your family life and rethink how your estate plan is set up.

  • Individuals you’ve named may have died.
  • New people may have come into your life.
  • You or one of your beneficiaries may have married, remarried or divorced.
  • Your kids or grandkids may have turned 18.
  • A beneficiary may have become incapacitated or may have fallen out of grace.
  • You may have moved to another state.
  • Relevant laws may have changed.
  • The value of your estate may have changed significantly.

If you can’t remember when you last updated your will, it’s time to take a look at it. Call Dworken & Bernstein’s estate planning lawyers to set up a complimentary case review.


Trusts are powerful and versatile instruments that help people control how they pass down their assets. Not everyone needs a trust, but many estate planning lawyers use them to help clients avoid probate, avoid taxes, provide for children and disabled loved ones, and solve a host of other issues. The estate planning lawyers at Dworken & Bernstein can advise on the use of various trusts as one part of a customized estate plan.

Powers of Attorney, Health Care Directives, and Living Wills

A power of attorney allows a person (the principal) to appoint another person (the attorney-in-fact) to act on his behalf when the principal cannot make his or her own decisions. This may be useful when the principal is unavailable to handle financial or legal matters themselves.

Health Care Directives and Living Wills come into play when the principal is sick, injured, or mentally incompetent. There are countless ways that estate planning attorneys use these tools and others to protect individuals and families. When you discuss your unique family situation with Dworken & Bernstein, they will be able to help you evaluate different courses of action and how they can affect your estate planning goals.

Wills & Trusts Attorneys

Howard S. Rabb
Keith R. Kraus
Erik L. Walter
Joshua J. Strickland

Trust Administration

Carrying out the intent of the Trust

Dworken & Bernstein attorneys facilitate administration of trusts and estates, including probate transfers, non-probate transfers, and estate tax preparation. We also provide clients with representation for guardianship and conservatorship matters, powers of attorney, health care directives, and related agency matters.

A person may place assets in a trust during his or her lifetime. Alternatively, his or her will may direct that all of the assets go into a trust. There may be non-probate assets such as insurance policies, transfer on death deeds, and/or payable on death accounts. Our attorneys are trusted advisors and can help you understand and manage these matters.

Trust Administration Attorneys

Howard S. Rabb
Joshua J. Strickland


Settling your loved one’s affairs

After a person dies, a probate lawyer helps the executor of the estate settle the decedent’s debts and distribute his or her assets.

When a loved one dies most people are not sure how to proceed. Questions usually run through your mind such as: Where do I begin? Did he or she have a will? Am I responsible for the funeral bill? How am I supposed to pay his or her bills? Can I ignore my loved one’s debts? What about the house? These are some of the questions that our experienced probate attorneys and staff hear on a regular basis.

When someone dies, it is important to take a step back, take a deep breath, and first and foremost deal with the burial of your loved one and the beginning of your grieving process. Other than making funeral arrangements for the decedent, there is nothing that can be immediately accomplished until a thorough inventory of the decedent’s assets is made. Determining how something is titled will set the stage for whether or not a probate estate is required.

As with the listing of the assets, it is also just as important to have a complete listing of the decedent’s debts. You may be thinking that you will take care of paying the small bills but wait to have the estate pay the larger bills. It’s best to consult with a good probate lawyer before you pay any of the decedent’s bills. You may be unaware that the estate may actually be insolvent (bankrupt). The experienced attorneys at Dworken & Bernstein can help you get a complete financial picture of the estate and advise you on how to proceed from there.

Dworken and Bernstein probate attorneys also guide clients in trust administration. The assets of the estate may be in trust, either placed in trust during your loved one’s lifetime or under the direction of the will. There may be assets that pass to beneficiaries by contract such as insurance policies, transfer on death deeds, and/or payable on death accounts. Our experienced attorneys and staff can help with all of these issues. Our attorneys also serve to advise trustees on managing the trust assets and making trust distributions appropriately.

From start to finish, you can rely upon the experienced probate attorneys of Dworken & Bernstein to guide you through the process.

Probate Attorneys

Howard S. Rabb
Joshua J. Strickland
Kenneth J. Cahill

Wealth Transfer, Asset Protection, & Succession Planning

Protect your life’s work.

Our wealth transfer and asset preservation practice are focused on representing families and their closely held businesses. This practice includes the structure of those family and business assets and related debt, sophisticated estate and philanthropic planning, asset protection, multigenerational structure and wealth-preservation planning.

Our experience with debtor/creditor issues bolsters our ability to help protect against creditors of families and their businesses. Good wealth management and estate plans help individuals and families with some of their most important concerns, including:

• Multigenerational transfer of wealth.
• Tax minimization strategies.
• Protection from creditors.
• Business continuity and succession.
• Wealth transfer and tax aspects of concentrated asset positions.

Wealth Transfer, Asset Protection, & Succession Planning Attorneys

Howard S. Rabb
Keith R. Kraus
Erik L. Walter
Joshua J. Strickland

All Estate Planning Lawyers & Probate Attorneys

Howard S. Rabb
Keith R. Kraus
Erik L. Walter
Joshua J. Strickland
Kenneth J. Cahill

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