“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.
Our probate attorney in Utah 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.
CALL US AT 801-505-5600 FOR A FREE CONSULTATION TODAY!
Protect Your Family with a Comprehensive Estate Plan
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.
Ensure That Your Children Are Well Cared For
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.
Estate Lawyers Help to Properly Distribute Inheritances
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. Our estate lawyer in Utah helps you with this.
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.
Estate Attorneys Help Protect Your Assets from Creditors
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.
Designate Who You Want to Make Medical Decisions for You by Selecting a Power of Attorney
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 may want to take so-called “end-of-life” decisions out of that person’s hands and give advance instructions to your medical providers.
Comprehensive Estate Plans May Include Wills, Living Trusts and More
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 another 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 the assistance of a Utah trust attorney 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 that our probate attorneys in Utah handle, 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.
Call us today at 801-505-5600!
Probate, Trust, and Estate Planning FAQs
Why Do I Need Estate Planning?
Estate planning gives you the opportunity to decide how your assets will be distributed after your death. While it is true that the state has a built-in estate plan for you if you die without having done your own estate plan, there’s a significant chance that you’d rather do it differently. This becomes even more true the more complex your assets and family situation becomes. An estate planning lawyer can also help minimize the taxes, expenses, and headaches faced by those who inherit your assets.
Does Utah Law Require You to Have a Will?
No, you aren’t legally required to complete a will. That said, if you pass without a will, your remaining assets will be divided under Utah’s state intestacy laws – and the way it all plans out may not be in accordance with your actual wishes. With a will, you can leave assets to stepchildren, friends, charities, and others who wouldn’t be beneficiaries under Utah intestacy law.
Should I Place My Assets Into a Trust?
It depends on what you want to accomplish. Until the changes in the federal estate tax laws over the past few years, most people who formed trusts did so to minimize the federal estate taxes on their estates. Under current law, there is no longer a need to do this for most people. However, trusts are very versatile creatures that can serve a multitude of purposes. Depending on what you want to accomplish, an appropriate trust might be created under the terms of your Will after your death. However, other types of goals require the present creation and funding of the trust. Whether to create and fund a trust now, or whether to create a trust under the terms of your Will, or whether not to create a trust at all, are all issues that should be discussed carefully and fully with a properly trained estate planning / trust attorney.
Do You Need an Attorney to Plan Your Estate?
At least in theory, you can sit down and draft your own Will in your own handwriting and have it be honored to the extent that it isn’t overruled by other law, such as a surviving spouse’s right to elect to receive 1/3 of your estate. However, unless your assets and your wishes are very simple, you will want legal assistance in planning and drafting your Will and other estate planning documents. The more valuable and complicated your assets, and the more complicated your wishes, the more you need the help of a qualified estate planning attorney. At J.D. Milliner & Associates, we have the experience and training to help you tailor an estate plan to accomplish your goals to the fullest extent possible.