Estate Planning

Estate PlanningPrenuptial/Postnuptial Agreement

Marriage is bound by love, but it is still a contract. Although prenuptial agreements have a negative connotation, they can in fact, be a positive experience as the prenuptial process gives each party an opportunity to reflect on what each expects to get out of the marriage and whether their expectations are compatible. At Amores & Shum we explain to the client what the marriage contract means in the eyes of the law, not only in a dissolution of the marriage, but also in the event of the death of one or both of the spouses. We take the client through scenarios of life and what the outcome would be without any premarital planning. After going through the prenuptial process with us, the client will enter into the marriage with open eyes and the knowledge that they are the masters of their fate.

Powers of Attorney

Most people plan for their death, but they do not plan for their life. A power of attorney is the tool that you use in case that you are unable to act for yourself. There are two types of powers of attorney. You would use a specific power of attorney if you just need someone to act on your behalf because you are not available. An example of this type of use would be if you are closing on a home, but are out of the country. This type of power of attorney expires after the date of the event or in the case that you become incapacitated. The second power of attorney is called a Durable Power of Attorney. With a Durable power of attorney, you can have the peace of mind that if due to illness or accident you become incapacitated, someone of your choosing will be able to make the decisions for you. The powers to act on your behalf can be as broad or as limited as you desire them to be. Without a durable power of attorney your loved ones may have to resort to court intervention in order to make decisions for you and the person that the court grants the power to may not be the person that you would have chosen to act on your behalf. The process of Court intervention is time consuming and more expensive than the cost of the preparation of the Durable power of attorney.


A lot of people are under the misconception that if they do not leave a will, their assets will go to the state. That is untrue. All states have intestacy law that determines who will inherit the assets of a person who dies without a will. If you do not leave a will and allow the intestacy law to take effect, your assets may not go to the person or persons that you want them to go to. By preparing a will, you decide who will inherit your assets upon your death.


Although a will allows you to designate who will inherit your assets upon your death, a trust allows you to control your assets beyond your death. In the trust you can designate how your heirs are allowed to use your assets as well as who will manage the assets for your heirs. It is also an estate planning tool that may be used in life to protect assets from creditors and to avoid probate.

There are two types of trusts. Revocable and irrevocable. As the name implies, a revocable trust may be revoked (cancelled) by you during your lifetime. An irrevocable trust may not be revoked once it has been executed.

Living Will

Whether a person wishes to have his or her life prolonged by artificial means when there is no chance of recovery is a very personal decision based on the person’s life experiences and belief system. A Living Will is a written directive by the individual specifying what his or her desires are in the providing, withholding, or withdrawal of life preserving procedures. As evidenced by the nationally publicized Terri Schiavo case, the lack of a Living Will can result in an emotional and expensive legal battle in which the determination of whether the person’s life is prolonged by artificial means is ultimately left up to the court.

Health care Surrogate

Sometimes a person is unable to make health care decisions due to his or her medical condition. The designation of a health care surrogate allows an agent chosen by the person to make health care decisions on his or her behalf. The designation of the Health Care Surrogate will also allow the surrogate access to the person’s medical records that would otherwise be unavailable due to the privacy regulations under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”).