In Estate Planning no truer words could be spoken. The soomer people prepare for retirement, declining health and possible nursing home stays, the better their situation will be.
The Elder Law Firm specializes in helping clients plan for the future. We offer a full range of advice and preparation of Wills, Trusts and Estate Planning.
The situation is different for each person and family. The first step in planning is to arrange an appointment with our firm. During the appointment, a detailed statement of affairs will be taken confidentially.
Our staff will perform an in-depth analysis of the your situation and make a recommendation consistent with your wishes and goals.
Some of the matters considered in estate planning include the following:
A. Last Will and Testament
For people desiring to retain control and use of their assets as long as possible a Will may be their best choice. A Will is a document signed by a person (Testator) stating how their property is to be divided and naming someone (Executor/Executrix) to handle the Estate. With a Will the person can be assured their wishes will be followed and retain control of their property as long as possible.
When the Testator dies, the Executor/Executrix files the Will for probate with the Chancery Court and the Court will see that the wishes of the Testator are followed. The Probate system is a fair way to assemble the assets of the Estate, pay legitimate Creditors of the Estate and distribute the assets to the beneficiaries lien free.
In a majority of Estates without unusual complications ,such as litigation between heirs, the time required for Probate is a minimum of five to six months from date of filing.
Many people want to avoid the time, expense, family problems and delay involved in probating a Will. The solution is a Living Trust which you create and where you name a Trustee to handle the affairs of the Trust. Usually the creator of the Trust serves as first Trustee and continues to handle affairs the same as before. When the creator dies, the successor Trustee named in the Trust handles the trust estate, terminates the Trust and distributes the assets in the estate according to the creator's directions. The creator may impose any conditions on the disbursement of the assets.
A Trust works because title to your assets is transferred from your name into the name of the Trust. This transfer is by bill of sale for personal property and deeds for real property. For example, the title is transferred to The Joe and Mary Smith Revocable Living Trust and the Trust, not the individual, owns the property. However, since the Creator is also the Trustee, he/she/they still control the handling of the assets until death or incapacity.
Another advantage of the Trust is in the event of incapacity of the creator(s), the successor Trustee may take over handling the Trust or business affairs thereby reducing the need of using the power of attorney. When the Creators pass away, since title to the assets is in the name of the Trust, no probate is necessary and the successor Trustee may distribute the assets to beneficiaries by bills of sale and land deeds.
Examples of types of trusts used include:
Revocable Living Trust is popular and allows the creator to make revisions to the trust provisions later should circumstances change. The creator retains complete control of assets. This type of Trust avoids the expense and delay of probate.
Irrevocable Living Trust is used for commonly for estate tax situations and Medicaid planning. This type of trust limits subsequent revisions. This is the reason it has estate tax benefits and may limit what the creator can do with the assets. The Elder Law Firm has access to some of the top estate tax specialists in order to take best advantage all estate tax benefits possible.
Special Needs Trust is a Trust created for persons having special needs. This Trust may be for young children or older adults. Many times it is used for children receiving governmental benefits and a Trust must be specially written and administered to help the special needs person with some expenses and protect the benefits received.
C. Asset Protection
Many people want to protect their assets so their children will inherit them. This requires special preparation and planning. The Elder Law Firm will explore every legal means to protect your assets for your family. No one person or entity can answer all tax questions. We use the best professionals available to assist in maximizing your estate situation.