Wills, Trusts And Estate Planning

Wills, Trusts And Estates: An Overview

Lawson Legal provides estate planning and administration services for individuals and their families. We strive for the greatest possible savings in income, estate and gift taxes while designing plans that meet individual objectives. Services include tax planning for lifetime, testamentary transfer, post-mortem wealth transfer, and the administration of decedents’ estates.

Our attorneys are experienced in counseling clients about and drafting a variety of sophisticated estate planning devices, including marital/credit shelter trusts, charitable remainder and charitable lead trusts, grantor retained income and annuity trusts, life insurance trusts, generation-skipping trusts and asset protection trusts.

Estate Planning Documents

Wills and basic estate planning can range from being simple, to VERY complex. However, the statement that an estate is “simple” is a misnomer. Even a simple will can be rather complex. The assets a person has, along with the probate process con confound the simplest of instructions. Even a simple will should be tailored to specifically address your individual wishes.

If your only focus is on what happens after somebody passes away, then a will or even a simple trust could be sufficient for you. There are pros and cons to each. We strive for the greatest possible savings in income, estate, and gift taxes while designing plans that meet individual objectives. Some items and documents to consider when making an estate plan are:

  • The last will and testament
  • The probate process and estate administration
  • Health care power of attorney
  • Durable power of attorney
  • Living will
  • Various types of trusts

Services also include tax planning for a lifetime, testamentary transfer, post-mortem wealth transfer, elder law matters and the administration of decedents’ estates.

Determining What Type Of Trust Will Best Suit Your Needs

Trusts and estates lawyers are consulted to assist in transfers of family real estate, the planning of gifts to charitable organizations, and other liquid assets, transfer of business interests, protection of inheritances of children and grandchildren, planning for the management of assets in the event of an individual’s incompetency, and planning to ensure complete privacy related to clients’ assets and beneficiaries.

There are several types of trusts. The best trust for one individual may not work for the next person. Trusts can range from being revocable and irrevocable with several different variations between. Judging a trust on if it is revocable or not is not enough to determine what is right for you. It is best to determine your ultimate goal when deciding which trust is best for you – such as:

  • Avoiding expensive and time-consuming probate
  • Protecting assets from liability, protecting assets to be inherited by beneficiaries (such as limiting liability as a result of divorce, a lawsuit, or even bankruptcy)
  • Protecting assets from the costs of long-term care through preplanning
  • Benefiting those with special needs

Our attorneys counsel clients to meet their individual and family objectives for the management and transmission of wealth. Services include the drafting of a variety of estate planning documents designed to preserve and protect family assets and to reduce estate, gift, income and generation-skipping taxes.

Probate: What Is It?

Estate administration is also called probate. There are several issues to determine in estate administration. The first is what assets need to be included in an estate. Certain assets may need to be legally transferred.

Probate may or may not be needed, depending on whether or not the assets were “probate assets.” After there is a determination on whether or not there are “probate assets,” the next question is “how do things get distributed?”

This question is answered by either looking at the will (if one exists) or at the law (if a will does not exist). If there is a will, there several legal doctrines that may protect certain members of the family which may slightly alter the distribution described in the will. Additionally, there could be unclear language within the will that requires interpretation, and there may be some assets that may not pass under the will as written.

Whether or not there is a will, there could be several issues relating to who gets what, and who may have claims. Lastly, there could be other issues to consider such as will contests or claims of undue influence.

We Can Help; Call Today

After discussing your specific needs with an attorney at Lawson Legal, we can recommend the appropriate trust for your unique and individual needs. We can also address your probate needs after the death of a loved one. Call our offices at 614-602-5300 or email us at your convenience.