Estate Planning and Representation

Estate planning allows an individual to plan for his or her lifetime objectives and to provide direction about the disposition of his or her assets after death, one of the most important decisions an individual will come to make.  Estate planning will include wills and trusts as well as powers of attorney and healthcare directives. Estate planning is impacted by state and federal law, and any individual may find that more elaborate or creative legal means are necessary for his or her situation. Some of these more complex techniques include trusts, family limited partnerships (FLPs), and limited liability companies (LLCs). IELC can be an essential ally in assuring that your estate planning goals are understood and carried out. If you have estate planning-related legal questions, call our firm today to schedule a consultation with an estate planning lawyer.

An important goal of estate planning is to protect income and assets from creditors’ claims and tax collection. While many people think asset protection involves shady or dishonest techniques, there are many ways to protect financial reserves, personal property, real estate, and other assets for retirement or for future generations. In addition to federal and state laws that exempt certain types of property from creditors’ claims, taxation, or both, there are numerous estate planning tools that may be able to shield assets from future creditors and reduce or eliminate estate or income taxation. If you are interested in working with an estate planning attorney to create a plan to protect your assets, contact our firm today to schedule a consultation.

Wills

A will provides for the distribution of property owned by you at the time of your death in any manner you choose. If a will provides for the outright distribution of assets, it is sometimes characterized as a simple will. If the will establishes one or more trusts, it is often called a testamentary trust will. Alternatively, the will may leave your assets to a preexisting living trust (created in your lifetime), in which case it is called a pour over will.

A will, by itself, does not avoid probate. A will is used in probate to determine who receives your property and who will act as the executor.  To avoid probate, you need to have a trust, or other non-probate alternatives to choose from.

Living Trusts 

A Revocable Living Trust, also known as a Family Trust or AB Trust, is a trust that is created during the your lifetime and that the you have the power to revoke while still living.

The major benefits of a Living Trust are as follows:

To avoid probate after death;
To provide a method for management of your property in the event of your incapacity;
Gives you control over the assets you leave to your children or grandchildren.
Maximize your Estate Tax Planning
Allows you, not the probate court, to control who gets your assets after death
Living trust is confidential and the transfer of assets from the living trust is kept from public view.

A Living Trust is in existence during while you are alive and has a trustee, the person who manages the trust and its assets under the terms of the trust, which may be you or another person you designate. A trust must own property which you transfer to it during your life. While you are living, the trustee (who may be you) is responsible for managing the property as you direct for your benefit. Upon your death, the trustee is generally directed to either distribute the trust property to your beneficiaries, or to continue to hold it and manage it for the benefit of your beneficiaries. Like a will, a living trust can provide for the distribution of property upon your death. Unlike a will, a living trust can also (a) provide you with a vehicle for managing your property during your life, (b) authorize the trustee to manage the property and use it for your benefit (and your family) if you should become incapacitated, thereby avoiding the appointment of a guardian for that purpose and (c) manage your assets the way you want for your children after your death.

For a trust to be effective it has to own title to the property or asset. Remember, when you transfer title of your assets into the trust it is called “Funding your Trust” Funding is the process of transferring the name on accounts or property to the name of the trust. Our office will assist you with transferring all of your assets to the trust.

Other non-probate options to choose from, depending on your individual circumstances, include,

Real property deed transfers, POD bank accounts, properly named beneficiaries to your retirement and pension plans, among others. IELC can advise you so that the best estate planning method is matched with you and your family’s particular needs.

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