Trust, Estate & Probate Lawyers in Salt Lake City, Utah
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” (Ben Franklin, 1735)
At J.D. Milliner & Associates, our Trust, Estate and Probate Attorneys in Salt Lake City, Utah will use our many years of experience to assist you in creating an integrated estate plan, including an Advance Health Care Directive (a/k/a a Living Will), Power(s) of Attorney, a Will, and a Trust (where appropriate) to help ensure that your wishes are followed regarding the medical care you receive, you get assistance (if needed) to manage your affairs, and your assets are distributed according to your wishes after your death. We can also help you make sure that the affairs of an incapacitated or deceased family member are properly handled, including by going to probate court if it becomes necessary to do so.
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Every adult can benefit from a fully-integrated estate plan, but most people don’t understand why. While current federal law has at least temporarily removed the federal tax incentive to do estate planning by eliminating the “death tax,” compelling reasons remain to do estate planning.
First, if you have minor children you probably want to decide who will finish raising them if both you and their other parent die before they’re grown. You probably also want to leave instructions regarding how your assets should be used for the benefit of your minor children after your death; and whether, when and how any remaining assets should be given to them once they are grown.
Second, even if you don’t have minor children, you probably want to direct how and when your remaining assets will be distributed after your death, rather than settling for the state’s best guess as to what you would have wanted if you had actually gotten around to planning your estate. You probably want to do this in a manner that will minimize taxes, other expenses, and hassles on those who you wish to inherit from you. And, you may want to distribute your assets in a way that helps to ensure that those who you want to benefit from your assets are actually able to do so. For example, a properly created spendthrift trust can help to ensure that a beneficiary who never has been good with money, or who may suffer from addictions, will actually benefit from what you leave to him or her, rather than seeing it all squandered in a short period of time or quickly taken by that person’s creditors. You may also have a family member who suffers from a serious mental disability and will need significant assistance all of his or her life. A properly formed special needs trust can enhance this person’s quality of life while not causing him or her to be disqualified from receiving the government benefits that he or she likely will need for the rest of his or her life.
Third, there is a trend toward trying to protect one’s valuable assets from the reach of one’s creditors during one’s lifetime and thereafter. While the Fraudulent Transfers Act will likely prevent you from successfully transferring your asset to someone else to avoid having them taken by presently known creditors, a properly created Asset Protection Trust may go a long way toward protecting your assets from unknown future creditors.
Finally, in the event you become mentally incapacitated and are either temporarily or permanently no longer able to make decisions for yourself, you want to make sure that you have properly authorized someone to take care of your financial affairs and to look after your physical needs. You probably also want to legally designate someone to make medical decisions on your behalf, but you my want to take so-called “end-of-life” decisions out of that person’s hands and give advance instructions to your medical providers.
In addition, there are many issues that arise when someone close to you becomes incapacitated or dies. Has someone close to you gotten to the point where they need to have someone else look after them and their financial affairs? Do they already have a power of attorney that appoints you or someone else to act on their behalf as their “attorney-in-fact,” or does a legal guardian and/or conservator need to be appointed by a court? Has someone close to you died without a Will (known as dying “intestate”) or other comprehensive estate plan, such as a living trust? Have you been nominated to be the personal representative (executor) for someone’s estate under his or her Will, or have you been appointed as a successor trustee of a trust established by someone who is now incapacitated or deceased? If so, you may need legal assistance in getting yourself properly appointed by a court of appropriate jurisdiction, and/or in properly administering the estate that you have been appointed to administer.
Also, and unfortunately, sometimes people who have been appointed to serve in these roles decide to administer the assets that have been entrusted to them more for their own benefit than for those who are designated to benefit under the Will, trust document or court order. When this happens, you will probably need legal assistance to recover assets that have been inappropriately transferred or applied, and/or to have this person removed from office and replaced by someone else who can be trusted to properly administer the assets.
To learn more about any of these topics, click on the links below:
Whether you want to properly plan your estate, you have been appointed trustee or nominated as personal representative (executor) for someone else’s trust or estate, someone close to you has died without a Will (intestate), or you believe that someone is trying to cheat you out of an inheritance, at J.D. Milliner & Associates, P.C. our Utah trust, estate and probate attorneys in Salt Lake City can help.