Estate Planning And Probate

Estate Planning

Beckman Blair assists clients with all aspects of estate planning and the administration of estates. A basic estate plan will us ually include a Living Trust, a Will, a Power of Attorney for finances, and a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care also known as an Advanced Health Care Directive. More complex estate plans require sophisticated planning to minimize the impact of estate taxes, capital gains taxes, property taxes and other financial challenges.

Beckman Blair also administers trusts following death with particular emphasis on asset valuation, strategic sub-trust funding decisions, and the preparation of estate and income tax returns with certified public accountants.

Our goals with Estate planning is to have you and your family protect your assets, ensure the largest inheritance possible and help guide your specific interests in deciding how your estate will be distributed. Avoiding probate and the additional costs and emotional drain of having the estate be part of a court proceeding is an important goal in estate planning. Proper estate planning can save tens of thousands of dollars, especially for married couples, and can ensure that your wishes will be followed.

Probate

Beckman Blair represents clients in probate litigation. Probate is the court process that oversees the handling of a person's estate. It can be time consuming, expensive and complicated. Beckman Blair represents executors, trustees, heirs and beneficiaries in all aspects of probate cases. The fees for attorneys representing the executor of an estate are paid by the estate and are set by statute. The executor, with the attorney's assistance, must inventory the estate's assets, locate creditors, pay bills, file tax returns, manage the estate's assets and petition the court to distribute the remaining assets to the appropriate heirs.

Conservatorships

A conservatorship is the best way to protect the assets of a loved one who can no longer care for themselves. The Probate Court will appoint Conservators to care for these people. Beckman Blair represent proposed conservators and other interested parties to a conservatorship.

Wills

A will is a legally enforceable document that dictates how your assets are to be distributed upon your death. A will can also designate a guardian for your minor children and appoint an executor for your estate. Wills can be as simple or complex as you wish and can be structured to achieve a wide range of family and tax objectives. A will, however will not allow your estate to avoid probate, unless your total assets are valued at less than $100,000.

Trusts

Trusts are very important tools for managing your estate. A trust is a legal arrangement in which one person or entity (the trustee) holds certain assets for the benefit of another person or entity (the beneficiary), in accordance with a written trust document. One person may be both the trustee and the beneficiary of the same trust. Trusts are often used to avoid probate which is costly and time consuming and may not properly address the original desires the person whose estate is in probate. Assets placed in a trust generally avoid probate and can be passed on to heirs almost immediately and at very little cost. If an individual has set up a trust during his or her lifetime and has transferred title to all of their assets to the trust, the Successor Trustee can bypass the court process and administer or distribute the estate assets following the directions in the Trust far more efficiently, and at a much lower cost.

Beckman Blair prepares, amends, and reviews trusts to ensure that your needs and desires are in place for the future. We advise our clients to have their trusts reviewed every five years or whenever there is a significant change in circumstances such as a divorce, marriage, birth or death of an intended heir, or material change in estate value.