Estate Planning. Estate planning documents should be drafted in clear, understandable language. We strive to draft plain language documents that do not require an attorney to understand. An estate plan is a series of documents in which you provide instructions regarding your care if you were ever incapacitated, and directs how your assets are to be distributed upon your death. An estate plan also includes documents that allow you to control decisions with regard to who should speak for you, and care for you and your assets, when you are unable to so.
Estate Administration (Probate): If you have passed away without a will, you are said to have died “intestate.” Your property will be divided up according to a formula fixed by law and the court will designate a Personal Representative to handle your affairs. It is important to have a current Will executed with the required testamentary formalities. Following payment of taxes, debts, funeral and administrative costs, the assets of your estate will be distributed in accordance with the directives in your Will. Probate proceedings are needed to ensure an orderly transfer of property after a person passes away. It is also necessary to safeguard the deceased’s person’s estate; pay all debts and taxes; and resolve who is entitled to what assets and to disburse the property accordingly.
Trust Administration: Upon the death of a loved one, the trustee (often a family member) has the duty to administer the deceased’s trust which should be funded with all assets owned except those which have a designated beneficiary or those which cannot be transferred to a Trust without triggering a taxable event (such as an IRA, Annuity, Retirement Fund etc..). There are many tasks that must be performed, including filing tax returns; collecting and protecting important documents; collecting and protecting assets; notifying employee benefit plans, and life, accident or disability insurance companies; satisfying debts; and making distributions. The trustee has fiduciary duties to fulfill. It is recommended that the trustee retain legal counsel to ensure to protect the interests of the estate, beneficiaries, creditors, and the trustee.
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