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Estate Planning

Estate Planning Services

Here are just some of the services we can address for you:

Wills

 Wills are designed to designate persons who will receive property and assets upon a person’s death. Because property designations in a will are only effective upon a person’s death and do nothing to avoid probate court, a will is often created in conjunction with a revocable living trust. A will can also be used to designate a guardian for minor children should the parents die or become incapacitated.

Revocable Living Trusts

 A revocable living trust is the most common type of trust. It provides instructions regarding a person’s assets, in case that person becomes incapacitated during his or her lifetime and instructions for distribution of assets upon death. Instructions in a trust can be simple or highly complex, according to a client’s needs.

Ancillary Documents

Ancillary documents should at minimum include a financial durable power of attorney, a medical power of attorney, and a living will. A durable power of attorney allows a person to assign an agent to act on his or her behalf for purposes. A medical power of attorney assigns an agent to have conversations with doctors and make medical decisions regarding a person’s health. A living will gives instructions to medical professionals when a person is unlikely to recover and cannot live without life sustaining assistance.

Tax Planning

 Tax planning involves much more than preparing taxes every spring. In the world of estate planning and looking at a person’s or family’s entire situation and goals, tax planning can help individuals reduce or eliminate both income taxes and transfer taxes on large amounts of money that are transferred by gift or upon death. Family owned businesses can also benefit from professional tax planning.

Asset Protection

Asset protection is highly beneficial for families with high risk occupations and for families of significant wealth. It is a preventative step used to protect assets accumulated over a lifetime from events such as bankruptcy, divorce, or a lawsuit. Asset protection should only be done well in advance of creditor ever appearing on the horizon.

Special Needs Trusts

 A special needs trust is designed to maximize a special needs child’s quality of life after the parents are gone. It can provide important financial support and outline specific requests concerning caregiving, living accommodations, religious activities, etc. One of the primary purposes of a special needs trust is to allow an individual with special needs to maintain eligibility for needs based government programs such as supplemental security income (SSI) and Medicaid. This needs based government programs limit eligibility of persons owning more than $2,000 worth of countable assets. Without proper planning a large inheritance to an individual with special needs could disqualify them for benefits until her or she spent down all the inherited resources.

Medicaid Asset Protection Trusts

A Medicaid assets protection trust is designed for a person to transfer property to a trust for the benefit of his or her family members and not have those assets counted for Medicaid eligibility purposes. Assets transferred to this type of trust must be done 5 years prior to applying for Medicaid. Due to the potential of asset transfer penalties affecting Medicaid eligibility, this trust should only be attempted with proper legal counsel.

Life Insurance Trusts

 A life insurance trust transfers funds to a trust sufficient to pay the premiums on a life insurance policy. This type of trust is a common technique used with large estates to transfer wealth outside the taxable estate, decreasing estate taxes.

Family Partnerships and LLCs

Family partnerships and LLCs can be used in a variety of unexpected ways when creating an estate plan. Partnerships and LLCs can be used to transfer property, especially in circumstances when a piece of property might be passed down from generation to generation.

Charitable Planning

Charitable planning allows an individual to give back to the community while reducing income taxes and waiving capital taxes on property. Through charitable planning, you can also set up future gifts while receiving income during your lifetime.

Probate and Trust Administration

Because the probate process can be lengthy and complicated, it is a good idea to have an attorney by your side along the way. You can also hire Elliot to help handle creditor claims, file necessary tax documents, and understand all of the unique pieces of a trust arrangement.

Guardianship and Conservatorship

Guardianship refers to appointing a person over an incapacitated person, while conservatorship refers to appointing a person over the incapacitated person’s assets. An attorney can assist you as you navigate the guardianship and conservatorship processes for a loved one.

Pet Trusts

A pet trust provides financial assistance and instructions for the care of a pet in case the owner dies or becomes incapacitated.

Elliot Smith is a certified public accountant and licensed attorney who can take care of all your family’s estate planning needs.