Wills, Trusts, Health Care Directives, and Power of Attorneys
Our estate planning attorneys help you and your loved ones to prepare for the future - including death and disability - by making decisions in advance. These decisions include asset transfer plans, business succession, health care options and more. Any person or family that owns property and other assets can benefit from estate planning. Responsible planning can help you avoid probate costs and delays, federal and state estate taxes, capital gains tax implications, disability concerns and Medicaid eligibility problems, as well as other potential issues.
Our attorneys can help you create a plan that will protect your interests now and in the future. Our estate planning team has the experience and knowledge to understand the ramifications of financial, health, and business decisions. Often times we consult with financial professionals and insurance agents to assess and preserve your assets.
Planning Your Estate
There are three main steps in the estate planning process. First, we will help you assess and evaluate your situation, including your estate, your beneficiaries and your priorities including a review of how your assets are currently held. No two situations are the same, and your unique needs must be considered fully before a proper estate plan can be drafted. Our firm has developed various checklists that will help you determine the nature of your estate, the plan for your beneficiaries and the priorities that you need to consider.
Next, we will help you draft the documents that you will need to complete your estate plan. These documents can range from a simple will to various kinds of trusts, each with advantages for specific situations. We will also help you with related documents, such as powers of attorney, living wills, health care directives and other documents.
Finally, we will ensure that your assets are properly held and titled, and make the appropriate changes if needed. This includes taking into consideration the tax effects, costs and priorities that were determined in the planning step.
Why do you need a will?
Many clients come to us thinking a will or trust is optional. In fact, they are essential estate planning tools. Any individual that owns property and other assets can benefit from a will or trust, and often times both. The benefits of planning through a will or trust may include avoiding probate costs and delays, federal and state estate taxes, capital gains tax implications, disability concerns and Medicaid eligibility problems, as well as other potential issues. If you are interested in discussing in further detail your estate planning needs with one of our experienced will attorneys, please schedule a consultation.
Preparing a will allows you to determine your wishes ahead of time so that they can be executed precisely to your specifications. This helps avoid disputes over how to distribute your assets. In addition, it relieves the burden on your loved ones from having to guess what your wishes were. Wills can also determine guardianship for minor children. No one can predict the future, but there are estate planning tools that can allow you to prepare for the inevitable.
Additional last will and testament benefits include the following:
Avoids having the state decide who will receive your assets when you die.
Allows you to nominate a person in charge of the probate of your estate and a guardian for any minor children.
Allows you to establish controls on the disbursement of your property to protect your beneficiaries due to their age, maturity, spending habits, disability, and potential for creditors (including spouses)
Allows you to provide for your animals
What is a Trust?
Trusts also can work in conjunction with your will. A trust allows control of bequests to minors and others who are unable to manage funds. Trusts also have these benefits:
Allows for Privacy: The terms of a living trust are contained in a private document, while the terms of a will, including beneficiary designations, the inventory of assets and the written account of all receipts and disbursements of the estate, become matter of public record once the will has been filed with the probate court. Administration of a living trust generally is not made public.
Allows for quicker transfers: A trustee can begin making distributions of assets to beneficiaries moments after the death of the grantor. However, an executor of a will cannot make distributions until appointed by the court after the will is admitted to probate.
Avoid multiple probate proceedings: If homes or other real property are owned in different states, use of a living trust may be useful to avoid separate probate proceedings.
May allow for both Federal and State Estate tax savings
May allow you to provide for your spouse while ensuring that upon your spouse's death your
remaining assets transfer to your children
A Living or Inter Vivos Trust is an instrument which allows individuals to avoid the cost and expense of probate. Trusts are living documents in as much as they can be changed during your life time. Once you die, however, the trust becomes “irrevocable” requiring your successors, trustees, and beneficiaries to follow your desires. Trusts are also private documents, meaning you do not need the court or attorneys to administer.
A Will or Testament is the oldest established means for transferring property. A Will allows you to designate beneficiaries and administrators. This allows you to avoid default laws, termed Intestacy. For our purposes we will draft your Will to include your personal assets; these assets will then “pour” into a Trust in the case of your death. The Will is also the document where you specify where your dependent children would go if you were to pass away. This decision is too important to hand over to the courts and can be something that divides families.
A Living Will is an important health directive. The document identifies to the world your desires in case of a life or death situation where artificial life support is needed. Without a Living Will your friends and relatives may fight amongst themselves as to whether or not to terminate your life support.
Health Care Directive and Power of Attorney
As they age, a good portion of our country is diagnosed with illnesses which may eventually rob them of their capacity to care for themselves. Because a Trust only comes into play when a person dies, individuals may need a temporary guardian who can access their medical and financial records for the duration of their lives. This necessitates a Health Care Directive or Power of Attorney. The Power of Attorney will assist individuals in filing taxes, access medical records, sell jointly owned property, and obtain government assistance.
No one intentionally leaves important decisions to the courts, but millions fail to take the steps to ensure their own wishes are carried out. API Legal will walk you through the process to establish a proper estate plan; they will help you understand your options and create the documents that put you in control.
Nevada and Utah DAPT
A Domestic Asset Protection Trust or DAPT is an irrevocable trust. At origination, the trust becomes a separate and legally distinct entity, separate from the grantor (the creator of the trust), the trustee (akin to the manager of the trust), and the beneficiary. Nevada and Utah allow the grantor to be a discretionary beneficiary while still offering a significant level of protection for the trust assets. Some states may have a version of a DAPT, but not all DAPT jurisdictions are created equally. Unquestionably, the powerhouse DAPT jurisdiction is Nevada. To learn more, click below.