Planning for the Later Years

Estate Planning is Necessary for Families

One of the hardest, but most necessary, things adults can do is plan for what they want in their older years and for how to handle their estate. Speaking to a qualified and experienced lawyer is essential to making sure those decisions are accurately set up and legally recorded. Frederickie “Rickie” A. Rizos, an associate attorney at Parker & O’Grady, LLC in Southampton, helps people to do just that.

“It is never too early to start your estate planning,” explains Rickie. “Too often people think they have to wait for a certain age or milestone, but there can be various benefits to getting your planning done early.”

Rickie recommends that all adults, starting at age 18, have a health care proxy and durable power of attorney. These documents clearly lay out who should make medical and financial decisions for a person who is not able to do so on their own. If these documents aren’t in place, the court will appoint a person to do so - something that can take time and potentially mean appointing a person whom the ill person may not want to handle their affairs.

Another key item for adults should be creating an estate plan, which dictates how a person’s assets should be divided upon death. Without one, the state’s descendant statute will make that decision.

“You lose control over where your assets end up,” explains Rickie. “This is a factor many people do not realize and another important reason to get your wishes in writing.”

Rickie also strongly recommends that people set up trusts for ease of transferring ownership of property upon their death. A will alone does not avoid the probate process.

“Trusts are not as scary as they may seem,” says Rickie. “Trusts can be used to avoid probate, protect assets from nursing homes, and/or significantly reduce or eliminate estate taxes.”

For many people, the hardest part of estate planning is just getting started. Talking about what will happen in people’s later years and upon their death is not a comfortable topic for most people, and one many try to avoid. However, that avoidance can make things far more difficult for them and their families.

“Estate planning can be very overwhelming for clients, ultimately resulting in them pushing it off far too long,” says Rickie. “It’s not a good idea to be implementing your estate planning on your death bed. I would encourage anyone considering estate planning to come in and have a conversation. I find that many of my clients find the experience to be enlightening.”

Attorney Cheryl Parker began Parker & O’Grady, LLC in March 1984, later partnering with her husband William O’Grady, and creating a successful general practice. Cheryl’s specialty is elder care law and Rickie hopes to continue that legacy. In the near future, the practice plans to extend its services to include civil and criminal litigation, divorce, and family law, making it a full-service law firm that attends to even more of the community’s needs. For both Cheryl and Rickie, being from Southampton, where the practice is located, gives them tremendous familiarity with the community and the needs of its residents, as well as a desire to make sure everyone has access to a reliable attorney.

“A complete estate plan is the final gift you leave to your loved ones,” says Rickie. “An estate plan can be very comforting during a time of great loss. It provides your loved ones with relief and saves hours upon hours of time when it comes to settling your estate.”

Rickie has been working at the firm since just after high school, in roles ranging from receptionist to law clerk to her current role as an attorney. Rickie can be reached via telephone 413.527.8660 or by email Parker & O’Grady, LLC is located at 124 College Highway in Southampton. For more information, visit

"It is never too early to start your estate planning. Too often people think they have to wait for a certain age or milestone, but there can be various benefits to getting your planning done early.”

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