Administration of Estates and Trusts
Trusts and estates lawyers advise corporate and individual fiduciaries regarding the administration of estates and trusts, including post-mortem trust funding and asset transfers, post-mortem tax planning, and estate tax, gift tax, and trust income tax return preparation.
Estate Planning Lawyer – Wills
A will is an official document stating what you want to have done with your belongings and estate when you die. It is usually advisable to have an attorney write your will to be sure that all your estate is accounted for and that all the necessary instructions are given.
A will allows you to make decisions, rather than forcing state law or a judge to make the decisions for you after your death. You can direct certain items of value or accounts to go to designated persons, including your church or favorite mission society or charity. The government cannot do this without your specific instructions in a properly executed will. You can designate your executor rather than leaving that choice to your heirs and the surrogate court judge. You can minimize fees and taxes with proper estate planning.
Though most Americans are aware that they need a will, the majority — about 70% of us — don’t have one. People procrastinate for many reasons, but it’s important to know that writing a will doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. And once it’s done, you can rest a little easier, knowing that your wishes will be followed after your death.
Estate Planning Lawyer – Probate and Executors
When a person dies, someone must step in to wind up the deceased person’s affairs. Bills must be paid, property must be accounted for, and items must be passed on to the people chosen by the deceased person. If state law requires that all this be handled through probate court proceedings, the process can take many months. If, however, before his or her death the deceased person took steps to avoid probate, the whole process will be quicker and easier. But even if there wasn’t any probate-avoidance planning, the surviving family may still be able to use simplified court procedures if not too much money and other property is involved.
Estate Planning Lawyer – Living Trusts
Whether or not you should set up a living trust to avoid probate depends on exactly what you want to accomplish and how much paperwork you’re willing to put up with. Living trusts work wonderfully for many people, but not everyone needs one.