Assist clients to create trusts.
- A trust agreement is a document which describes the wishes of an individual for property held in trust for his beneficiaries.
- Common objectives for trusts are to reduce the estate tax liability, to protect property in an estate, and to avoid probate.
There are several types of trusts, the most popular is a revocable trust.
- A revocable trust is a legal document created by an individual (the grantor) during his lifetime. Just like a will, a trust states exactly what the person's desires are with regard to his assets, dependents, and heirs. The big difference is that a will becomes effective only after a person dies and his will has been entered into probate. A trust bypasses the process of probate, enabling an individual's successor trustee (who fills a similar role as an executor of a will) to carry out his instructions as documented in his trust at his death, and also if he is unable to manage his financial, healthcare, and legal affairs due to incapacity.
- There are two types of trusts:
- Revocable trust: an individual transfers his assets into the ownership of the trust. He retains control of those assets as the trustee. He can change or revoke the trust at any time. The assets in the trust pass directly to his beneficiaries without going through probate upon his death.
- Irrevocable trust: allows an individual to permanently and irrevocably give away his assets during his lifetime. After he gives away these assets, he has relinquished all control and interest in these assets. Therefore, these assets are no longer considered part of his estate and aren't subject to estate taxes.
Estate Tax Planning
Guide clients, who possess property in the U.S. and/or overseas, through the process of estate planning—coordinating financial affairs to secure the greatest economic security for clients and their families.
- A well-designed estate plan provides not only for the orderly transfer of assets at the estate owner's death, but also takes into account the need for retirement income and the possibility of mental or physical disability.
- The size of an estate has some impact on the complexity of the procedures, but the importance of planning is no greater for large estates than for those of modest size.
Assist individuals, who possess property in the U.S. and/or overseas, to determine whether they will need to pay estate taxes.
If clients would be required to pay estate taxes, we can offer suggestions about how to minimize or avoid those taxes.
Assist individuals to draft a will.
- Each state has statutes which establish the requirements for a valid will. Most states require that a will be written or typed, signed by the testator, and attested by two or three witnesses.
- Generally, execution of a valid will requires that the testator be a minimum age and possess testamentary capacity. In most states, the minimum age is eighteen. The testator also must be of sound mind at the time the will is executed. Sound mind requires that the testator:
- Know that he or she is executing a will.
- Know the general nature and extent of his or her property.
- Know his descendants or other relatives that would ordinarily be expected to share in the estate.
The intention of the decedent as expressed in the will is to be given effect by the courts, unless contrary to law or public policy. Will takes effect at the testator's death.
Act as Executor or Administrator for Probating Wills
Assist beneficiaries and/or heirs of a decedent by acting as the executor or administrator of a will either by legal or testamentary proceeding.
- Probate is the legal process by which a person's final debts are settled and legal title to property is passed from the deceased to his beneficiaries and heirs.
The first step is for the person named in a will as executor to file papers in the local probate court.
- The executor proves the validity of the will and presents the court with lists of the decedent's property, debts, and who is to inherit what remains. Then, relatives and creditors must be notified of the proceedings.
- The executor must find, secure, and manage the decedent's assets during the probate process, which commonly takes a few months to a year.
- The court grants the executor permission to pay the decedent's debts and taxes and divide the rest among the people or organizations named in the will.
If there is not any will (a person dies intestate), or the will fails to name an executor, the probate court names an administrator (legal probate).
- The distribution of estates of intestate decedents is a matter for state regulation. The property is distributed according to state law.
Health Care Proxy
The cost of administering an estate may be significantly greater when there is no will.
Assist clients to prepare a health care proxy.
- A Health Care Proxy allows a person to appoint someone — for example, a family member or close friend – to make health care decisions on their behalf in case the person became unable to make that decision. Only with a Health Care Proxy an agent is allowed to discuss medical issues with a health care provider.
There are two situations in which a health care agent is needed:
- Temporary inability to make health care decisions. For example, before having an outpatient surgical procedure and are under general anesthesia. In case something unexpected happens the health care agent is there to take the decision that the principal would make.
- Permanent inability to make health care decisions. This would arise if the client has a terminal illness and has specific medical wishes such as treatment, medication or surgeries. If a health care agent is appointed, then the health care agent will make the principal's health care decisions according to own wishes, or your best interests.
Power of Attorney and Guardianship
Assist clients to create a Power of Attorney. A POA is a legal instrument that is used to delegate legal authority to another on your behalf to make property, financial and other legal decisions.
A person can give another person broad legal authority, or very limited authority. The Power of Attorney is frequently used to help in the event of a Principal's illness or disability, or in legal transactions where the principal cannot be present to sign necessary legal documents.
POAs are also helpful in avoiding the expense of having a court appoint a Guardian to handle the Principal's affairs in the event of incompetence or disability.