Estate Planning Attorneys in Brandon, Rankin County, and Scott County
The purpose of estate planning is to preserve your legacies and to smooth the transmission of your worldly possessions to those you most want to protect. Our estate planning attorney team at Palmer Slay, PLLC, is fully committed to helping you create an estate plan that is well-structured and legally binding. We not only have the experience to guide you through the complicated legal pathways of asset protection, wills, and probate, we also have the knowledge and insight to help you prepare for contingencies you may not have even considered.
Though we all know that death is inevitable, the majority of us don’t like to think about mortality. Nonetheless, we are aware that planning for our own deaths will make the lives of the loved ones we leave behind more manageable and less stressful. This is a good reason for consulting with the responsible estate planning attorneys at Palmer Slay.
Wills: The Last Word
A will (or last will and testament) is a document that names the individuals, groups, or entities, such as charitable organizations, that will be your beneficiaries. Your will also name a guardian for your minor children (if any) and an alternate guardian in case your first choice is unable to take on the responsibility. In addition, you may also put into your will specific details about how you want your funeral or memorial handled: whether you want to be buried or cremated, what music you would like, whether there should be a religious ceremony or not. When we create a will for you, it will also include the name of your executor (personal representative), the person you choose to manage the distribution of your estate after you die.
Probate & Estate Administration
Probate is the process of judicial determination of a will’s validity, while estate administration is the process of managing the estate and distributing its funds according to terms set down by the decedent. Although many estates go through the probate process, if the decedent’s assets are placed in carefully constructed trusts, in all probability probate will be unnecessary. When probate is required, it can be costly and time-consuming, varying according to the size and complexity of the estate. This is the reason we will try to help you avoid probate.
Certain kinds of property do not go through probate:
- Property jointly owned by “tenants with right of survivorship”
- Retirement accounts with designated beneficiaries, (e.g. IRAs and 401(k)s)
- Bank accounts with “pay on death” (POD) or “in trust for” designations
Because of the protections against probate these options offer, they can be worthwhile parts of your portfolio.
Planning for Potential Incapacity
Difficult as it may be to come to terms with your own mortality, it may be even harder to face the possibility that you will, at some point, become incapacitated and require long-term care. Our attorneys are skilled in preparing you for potential incapacity by creating customized solutions to meet your concerns and preferences.
The Benefits of Establishing Trusts
Our capable attorneys can also help to formulate your estate plan so that you may take advantage of various types of trusts to protect and preserve your assets. In addition to serving the purpose of lowering tax liability, trusts can provide for money to be held for an heir and parceled out over time instead of all at once. Even though many people think of trusts as tools for the wealthy, establishing a trust can serve a valuable purpose, even for middle-income individuals, such as protecting loved ones from losing government benefits or from their own reckless overspending.
Types of Trusts
Different trusts are designed for different purposes. Below are some of the types of trusts our attorneys can draft for you:
Revocable Living Trusts
Revocable living trusts are an excellent tool to provide for personal care and management of assets during incapacity as well as an expeditious method for distributing assets to your beneficiaries at death. As the name implies, revocable trusts can be changed during the testator’s lifetime.
Irrevocable trusts have several advantages. Because you no longer “own” the money in the trust, should you require long-term healthcare in the future, you will not have to “spend down” the money in the trust in order to be eligible to receive government benefits, such as Medicaid. Irrevocable trusts can also prevent your life insurance proceeds from being taxable, and protect a disabled loved one from losing his or her benefits. Irrevocable trusts can’t be modified or terminated without the permission of the beneficiary.
Trusts for Minors
These trusts are typically created to support children or grandchildren by providing them with money for education, medical expenses, and/or to pursue their special interests or talents. In many cases, trusts are established as an incentive for young heirs to reach a certain goal, such as graduating from college, in order to receive their inheritance.
Because individuals with special needs are entitled to receive government benefits, and government benefits are means-tested, those who want to leave special needs loved ones money may feel constrained by the fact that the money they leave will interfere with the supplemental income of SSI or SSD, or with the Medicare or Medicaid on which the special needs individual depends. By setting up a special needs trust, the benefits of the heir are protected. Since the trust is not in the individual’s name, government benefits will not be interrupted, yet he or she will still be able to receive supplements from the appointed trustee as needed.
Marital trusts are designed to protect property, especially in situations involving second marriages, as well as to avoid taxes. When a marital trust is created, the testator can be sure that money left to the present spouse will go back to the children of the first marriage when the present spouse dies.
More people than you might think are concerned about the reckless spending of at least one of their heirs. In an effort to keep a loved one’s spending in check so that they don’t go through their inheritance too quickly, testators can have their estate planning attorney put the money in an irrevocable trust. Once this is done, an appointed trustee is in charge of dispensing the money in reasonable amounts, at a reasonable pace. The chief purpose of a spendthrift trust is to protect the beneficiary from his or her own impulsive behavior and from predatory creditors who may encourage overspending in order to collect high interest rates.
As those of us with pets know, pets quickly become part of the family. For this reason, many people, especially those who live alone, worry about what will happen if they predecease their beloved pets. Although your pet may seem human to you, the law defines your domesticated animal as “personal property.” Leaving a sum of money to an animal who is incapable of managing it is not an efficient way to handle this problem. Instead, you should have one of our attorneys draw up a pet trust. Doing so not only enables you to name a responsible trustee (and an alternate trustee in case the first person is not able to serve), but also to detail precisely how you want the pet tended to in your absence.
Business Succession Planning
Another area of estate planning important to a great many of our clients is business succession planning. We are well-prepared to assist you in preparing for what will happen to your business if you decide to retire, become disabled by illness or injury, or die suddenly. Whether you own a small business or head a large corporation, business succession planning can help you arrange for a smooth transition. Having a workable succession plan will ensure that:
- Desired succession occurs
- Shareholders or relatives don’t inherit your business against your wishes
- Your business will be divided proportionately as you wish
- Your methods of management and goals will continue to be implemented
- Your business’s cash flow will continue without interruption
- All necessary taxes will be paid
Having a strong business succession plan in place gives you the assurance that the business you worked so hard to develop will thrive after you’re gone and that your legacy will remain intact.
Why Palmer & Slay, PLLC Is Your Best Choice
At Palmer & Slay, because we focus exclusively on just a few related areas of law, we are experienced and accomplished in all aspects of this specialty. We look forward to working with you, confident that we can provide you with all the advice, clarification, and document creation you need to establish an estate plan that is reflective of your wishes.
It is important to understand that in preparing your estate plan, we do not prepare cookie-cutter legal forms. When you hire Palmer & Slay for your estate planning, you will know your lawyers not only create a customized plan that fit your needs, but will also have the knowledge and understanding to identify problem areas and have the ability to handle any possible complications that may arise.
We are dedicated to taking over the complicated strategizing necessary to protect your assets from creditors and excessive taxation, and to see that your loved ones inherit precisely as you want them to. We are also committed to keeping you apprised of the steps we are taking so that you never feel closed out of the process. We keep current with all changes in estate planning and elder law that come along; you can always count on us to be looking out for your family with personal, as well as professional, concern.
Contact An Estate Planning Attorney Today
For help with wills, probate & estate administration, non-probate assets, potential incapacity planning, and trusts, contact one of our estate planning attorneys.