Using estate law to provide for minors, elders and heirs with special needs
Fillmore Spencer LLC attorneys work with Utah Valley residents of all ages and types, from young families to established business owners and those nearing retirement, to establish estate plans that will implement their wishes when they die or become infirm or incapacitated. Our attorneys also help select guardians for minor children, create conservatorships, defend seniors from elder abuse and fraud, and avoid estate and probate taxes.
Estate planning encompasses inventorying your assets, determining asset distribution after your death, considering which estate planning tools you prefer and implementing the plan. Your plan should also include contingencies — after all, you might become incapacitated and require long-term care, or your intended heirs might die before you do.
The estate planning tools and topics with which Fillmore Spencer LLC can assist you include:
There are steps you can take to minimize estate taxes and ensure that most of your worldly wealth is given to your loved ones.
The biggest detriment to an effective estate plan is procrastination in creating a will. Establishing a will is a straightforward process. It lets you name the executor for your estate and which heirs will get what property. You can also stipulate a guardian for any minor children who survive you. It also lets you name contingent beneficiaries — secondary heirs who are next in line if your primary heirs die before you do. If you fail to establish a will, the state will follow established next-of-kin rules and distribute whatever assets survive estate taxation accordingly.
If taxes are a consideration, Fillmore Spencer LLC helps minimize their sting. One appropriate tool is a trust. Trusts give you greater control over your legacy, permitting you not only to leave a specified amount to an heir, but also to specify the fund’s purpose. And once you fund a trust, those assets are removed from your estate and will not be subject to probate or estate taxation. Trusts are very useful: They can serve as an endowment for a grandchild or a favorite nonprofit organization, or to meet the special needs of a loved one.
Fillmore Spencer LLC helps you prepare for the possibility of incapacitation. Powers of attorney, living wills and adult guardianships and conservatorships help ensure you receive the care you need should you become incapacitated, disabled or infirm.
A power of attorney is a relatively inexpensive way to give someone you trust the right to act for you in certain circumstances. If you fall ill and do not have a power of attorney in effect, a court may create a conservatorship or guardianship on your behalf. If you can care for yourself but can’t make key financial decisions, it will likely be a conservatorship. If you are unable to make any decisions for yourself, it will be a guardianship. Your will may stipulate who you would want to serve in either capacity. Without those directions, the court will appoint someone, preferably a close relative.
Fillmore Spencer LLC also helps the people who must execute wills, trusts and contingency plans.
When a person dies, their estate is administered either by the will’s executor, or by a will administrator appointed by the state. This executor or administrator is charged with navigating your estate through probate — locating and notifying the heirs named in the will, ensuring that the probate process is handled properly, and seeing that all estate post-tax proceeds go to heirs.
It can be an onerous process. Creditors must be paid before heirs receive their allotments. Probate deadlines and procedural requirements must be met to ensure the estate is administered correctly. And there is always the chance that an heir will object to the will’s terms, or unnamed heirs will lay claims. Even without probate litigation, it is not unusual for probate to take significant time and effort.
Fillmore Spencer LLC also helps trust administrators meet important deadlines and their fiduciary responsibilities and satisfy the trust’s requirements. We also defend trust administrators in litigation.
Fillmore Spencer LLC has experience with all manner of estate planning missions, including disposition of family businesses, and provides ironclad wills and trusts. To learn more, call us at (801) 426-8200 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation.