Estate Law is a natural fit for our family law and adoption legal practice in that so many people who have experienced a transition, such as the birth or adoption of a child, marriage or divorce, or the passing of a loved one, understand how quickly life changes and how important it is to plan for important things such as the care of their children, asset preservation, property and asset distribution, or to communicate their wishes in the event of their incapacitation or death. This can be accomplished through thoughtful planning and detailed documentation; starting with the selection of someone to implement their plan and wishes (executor or personal representative).
For some of our family law clients, existing estate plans may be invalidated following legal proceedings such as divorce. Or their thoughts about the designated legal guardian for their minor child changes following a significant life event. Even more often, life changes can have an impact on the finer details such as beneficiary designation on life insurance policies or retirement accounts.
These are some of the reasons we commenced our estate planning practice – to not only help individuals and families move through the transitions of life events, but to move forward with an estate plan that will mirror their life moving forward.
Estate planning is essential; not just for the rich, middle-aged, or older adults, but even for those who are as young as 18 years of age. Consider the many benefits of a thoughtful plan:
- Your care in the event of incapacitation
- The care of minor children
- Avoiding the need to probate your estate through the courts
- Prevention of unintended beneficiaries
- The distribution of assets
- Tax implications
- Avoiding disputes within the family
- Gifting of personal property
- Charity designations
Having the benefit of time is a gift, not only in life, but when considering your estate plan. Time allows you to plan well in advance, giving you the opportunity to be more strategic in utilizing options that may allow you to implement ideas such as asset transfers, healthcare directives, and power of attorney. All of these, and other considerations, not only reduces the decision-making burden on loved ones, but may also minimize tax liability or asset depletion due to the cost of substantial medical or long-term care.
Estate administration, upon your incapacitation or death, begins with the executor of your estate or your named personal representative, which is why this is one of the more important decisions during the planning process. This person is assuming not only important responsibilities, but also committing his or her time to properly administer your estate plan according to your wishes. In some cases, the executor or personal representative may benefit from the support and guidance of an attorney who can help by facilitating the process and proceedings.
In addition to locating important documents and notifying entities such as: Social Security Administration, pension and annuity providers, and others of the death, the executor has several other legal responsibilities, some of which include:
- Initiating the probate of the Will, if necessary
- Identifying and inventorying assets
- Collecting debts owed to the estate
- Paying claims against the estate
- Distributing assets to the beneficiaries of the Will
- Closing the estate
In some cases, these responsibilities are manageable, but in other cases they may be time-consuming and stressful; particularly the unknown factors and implications. If you have been named the executor or personal representative of someone’s estate, call our firm today to consult with an attorney. Whether or not you decide to hire us, you will leave equipped with information that will be helpful moving forward.
Peace of Mind
There is a great sense of relief and peace of mind once you have put an estate plan in place and communicated the plan with your loved ones. Remember however, life happens, and a plan needs to be reviewed and updated to maintain its integrity and validity throughout your life. We are happy to conduct a complimentary consultation during which we can look at your current estate plan, discuss life changes that may impact the plan, and provide suggestions and recommendations.
Since its inception, our estate law practice has grown beyond just our family law clients, and our proven experience affords us the ability to address more complex plans and probate matters. Furthermore, our office location within the Collaborative Alliance Executive Suite provides us immediate access to experts across disciplines when complexities arise, or additional strategic input.
Call (952) 405-2050 or email today! We would appreciate the opportunity to discuss your needs.