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The best way to plan an estate is personal.

Estate planning can be challenging and emotional, but also profoundly fulfilling. For executors, the process after the death of a loved one can be overwhelming. With personalized, caring legal advice, you can feel comfortable making the decisions that will shape your legacy and honor your loved ones.

With experience in Connecticut and New York law, I support individuals, couples, and families in planning and managing estates. My goal is to help you protect what matters most — and get on with living your life.

There’s no single process, method or plan: The best estate plan is one tailored to your goals, values, and family dynamics. Similarly, estate executors always have their own, unique sets of decisions and judgments to make. I work closely with my clients to fully understand their needs. Then, we walk together through the process.

That said, there are a few common steps I generally follow with my clients.

Estate planning: 

Before we meet, I’ll ask you to think about your assets and property, as well as your loved ones who will receive gifts. Use the following form to collect your thoughts.

During our first meeting, we will discuss your needs in depth, and I will offer advice on different methods that can streamline the transfer of your assets.

If you already have a will or estate plan, we will review to identify gaps or life changes that call for updates.

I will prepare necessary documents, making sure your plan is strong and clear, and provide them to you for review.

We’ll meet to sign all documents, answering any final questions and then finalizing the plan.

For many of my clients, our relationship continues long into the future. Life often calls for changes to an estate plan — such as a marriage, or the birth of a child or grandchild. It’s my pleasure to play an ongoing role in my clients’ lives.

Estate Administration:

If you have been named executor of an estate, we will meet to review the assets and estate plan documents. The following form may help you organize this information.

We’ll make sure everything is clear and in order. 

Working together, we will submit the will for administration, collect and prepare an inventory of assets, evaluate debts, and pay claims and expenses, and prepare estate tax returns. 

We will distribute assets to the heirs, along with a final accounting.

Whatever transitions we encounter, I strive to keep the process smooth, understandable, and compassionate. Contact me with any questions about the process.

If you would like to learn more about the estate administration process, here is the Connecticut Probate Court User Guide for Estate Administration.

  • When my husband died Mary helped me settle his affairs. Working with her, the process was smooth and easy to understand. Mary’s caring manner was a comfort to me during a difficult time.

    J. Omenson, Roxbury, Connecticut

  • I have nothing but good things to say about my attorney, Mary Schinke. Not only is she an 
    excellent lawyer who covers all bases in an accurate and comprehensive manner, but is also a
    compassionate and kind person.  I heartily recommend her.

    M. Garfin, Southbury, Connecticut

  • I wasn’t looking forward to making my will, but working with Mary made the process easy and comfortable. She is calm, thoughtful, and easy to understand.  Mary also helped me through the process of serving as an Executor.  She demystified the process and was a delight to work with. Mary will remain my cherished counsel and confidant, not only in law but also in my life.

    M. Richardson, Southbury, Connecticut

  • Mary always made us feel very comfortable with the process and her effort.

    D. Hocking, New Rochelle, New York

  • Mary was not only thorough and professional, but always kind and willing to go the extra mile.

    R. Hocking, New York, New York

  • I appreciated Mary's exceptional service. Mary was calm and clear throughout the process, making it far less onerous than I had anticipated.

                                                                                                                      - S. Albrecht, Canton, Connecticut

  • Mary Schinke provided expert guidance to me and my sons about estate planning, powers of attorney and healthcare proxies.  She was excellent at consulting each party as to their individual needs and then following up to assure alignment of my estate plan to theirs.

    M. Davis, New York, New York and Washington, Connecticut

  • Mary, thank you so much for all you’ve done. Your compassionate warmth and professionalism have been so important to me.

    J. Taylor, Southbury, Connecticut

  • Mary is very easy to work with.  Her deep and broad knowledge and experience helped us get our wills and other important life documents completed.  And we actually had a good time doing it!

    L. Apolzon & J. Stanton, Roxbury, Connecticut & New York, New York

  • Mary is a lawyer's lawyer. Incredible knowledge, completely trustworthy with a particular expertise in trust and estate work. As a partner in a same sex relationship, Mary's time and advice in helping us properly plan for the inevitable was priceless. And did I mention her comforting, humorous and loving manner? Simply the best.

    P. Healy, Roxbury, Connecticut & New York, New York

  • Mary Schinke provided excellent guidance to me and my co-executor as we navigated the probate process, resolving an estate with many loose ends. It would have been impossible for us executors to navigate the issues without Mary—she patiently explained every legal obligation to us, and carefully led us in resolving debt issues and distributions. In preparing the paperwork for the court, Mary ensured that the most accurate information would be conveyed. Mary carefully prepared for every meeting, and had all the time in the world for us when we met with her. Her cheerful “can do” attitude went a long way in getting us past the knotty issues. We are grateful to have worked with Mary! 

    L. Pistell, Summit, New Jersey & S. Beard, Blandford, Massachusetts

  • Mary is always thoughtful, thorough and a true pleasure to work with.

    C. Haver & S. Skolnick, Roxbury, Connecticut