Probate & Estate Planning
Minimizing the cost of estate taxes, probate fees, and estate planning expenses is the goal of our estate plans. Everyone wants their estate assets to pass on to their surviving beneficiaries with the least amount of erosion from taxes and probate costs. And when there is a death in the family, our clients want an attorney that will get the job done without unnecessary delays.
One of the approaches to accomplishing an effective estate plan is to “avoid probate” when we can transfer an asset upon death without impairing the client's ability to use and control the asset during his or her life. We can show you strategies that utilize “non-probate transfers” to accomplish a seamless transfer of certain assets to survivors in ways that allow you to retain the use, income, and enjoyment from your assets while you are living.
Trusts have been the most widely used estate planning tool to “avoid probate” over the past several decades. What many people are realizing, all too late, is that the cost and time involved in trust administration both before and after death is not all that different from the time and expense of after death probate that they were trying to avoid by using the trust. The most common complaint that we hear from our clients about trusts is that they are complicated documents, the clients don't feel like they fully understand their own estate plan, the trust estate plan was expensive to prepare, and the clients don't like to deal with a cumbersome trust in the lifetime ownership and maintenance of their assets. We don't recommend using trusts when trusts are not necessary to accomplish the estate planning goal. If and when a trust is the best strategy for a client, we strive to craft a trust arrangement that is efficient and understandable, and that is not unnecessarily complicated.
Almost every estate plan involves a Will of some sort. Even if the estate plan uses non-probate transfers or a trust as a strategy to avoid probate, a Will is typically a part of the estate plan to sweep up any loose ends or unforeseen circumstances. We help clients make wills that are clear and concise to accomplish the intentions of the client.
The changes that have developed in the past several years in the Federal Estate Tax laws have enabled us to deliver an understandable and uncomplicated estate plan to clients. We help clients to make estate plans that will pass along their assets and their wealth to the next generation, while at the same time providing for the continued care and financial wellbeing of a surviving spouse and minor or college-aged children. We strive to make our wills and trusts short, concise, and easily understood by your beneficiaries and the person that will be in charge of the administration of the estate after your death.
Clashes between beneficiaries after the death of a loved one sometimes find their way into the estate or trust administration process. Sometimes the person that is appointed by the decedent to be in charge of the estate or trust administration is either not following the estate plan or is just not getting the job done. We help clients in estate and trust administration litigation to accomplish the decedent’s estate plan efficiently and according to the intentions of the decedent.