WHAT IS ESTATE PLANNING?
Contrary to popular belief, estate planning is not just for the wealthy. Estate planning is basically making a plan in advance, naming whom you want to receive the things you own after you die.
Believe it or not, you do have an estate. An estate is compromised of the things you own and can include:
- Your car
- You bank accounts (even if you only have $50 in a savings account, that is considered part of your estate!)
- Real estate
- Life Insurance
- Personal possessions: furniture, jewelry, etc.
Everyone has an estate- no matter how small or large, you do have an estate. That means that when the time comes, you should have a plan carefully laid out in order for your loved ones to know what your wishes will be. Helping clients construct an estate plan that makes sense and fulfills their intended wishes is what we do.
Effective estate planning needs careful attention to what each client’s goals and plans are; this way, we can ensure that the plan works now and in the future. Equally important to this process is our understanding of the tax implications of our client’s wishes and how they will be affected in probate. Whether the client requires a simple will to transfer property at death or a more complicated financial plan that allows for the distribution of funds to family members, charitable organizations or other beneficiaries, our firm can see to it that your last wishes are carried out.
HOW DOES A TRUST WORK?
A trust is a financial arrangement in which a client designates a third party (a trustee/trustees) to hold assets on behalf of a beneficiary/beneficiaries for a specific amount of time, which can be months, years or indefinitely. When you sit down with one of our probate attorneys to discuss a trust, you will find there are several benefits. You can decide to create a trust for a loved one, a charitable organization or a designated group. Our law firm can explain that you can specify how, when and if the beneficiary/beneficiaries receive the assets. If you decide on an irrevocable trust, you may be able to pay less taxes since it may not be considered part of the estate. Other benefits can include:
- Avoiding probate means that assets from a trust may be released sooner than other assets in the estate
- you can control your wealth in a way that you can ensure your wishes are followed
- It allows for more privacy for your estate and beneficiaries
- Saves on probate and court fees
There are many different types of trusts. When you consult our probate lawyers, they will be able to further break down the benefits and types of trusts for you. If you are interested in learning more about trusts and/or setting one up, call our offices today.
WHAT IS GUARDIANSHIP AND HOW CAN A LAWYER HELP ME?
If an adult becomes unable to make responsible decisions due to a mental disability or illness, a court has the power to appoint a guardian. This person is authorized to make legal, financial and/or health care decisions for the incompetent adult. Guardianship is a court supervised, legal relationship between a competent adult and the person deemed incapacitated by the court, called a “ward”.
- A complete guardianship means that an appointed guardian is in charge of making all decisions related to the ward’s finances, health and legal decisions. This includes how and where they will live.
- A limited guardianship is when the “ward” can make responsible decisions in some areas of their lives but not others. In those cases, a limited guardianship is put into place, in which a guardian or conservator is only given decision-making power over only certain areas of the ward’s life.
Our guardianship attorneys can help you decide what the best course of action is for your case. If you are worried or interested in a proposed ward’s well being, we can help you begin the process to request a guardianship. A person is generally considered to be in need of guardianship when he or she shows an inability to make responsible decisions or is found mentally unfit. A guardianship attorney can help you file the paperwork in order to begin the legal proceedings. We will represent you during the hearing and other legal meetings that may be required.
A guardian can be any adult proven to be capable and responsible. They can be the ward’s spouse, another family member, a friend, a neighbor or a professional guardian (an unrelated person who has received special training). If two people wish to share guardianship duties, the court can appoint them co-guardians. A guardianship attorney can also explain how a guardian does not have to be a person at all– it can be a non profit agency, or a public or private corporation. In naming someone to serve as a guardian, courts will first consider those who play a significant role in the ward’s life– people who are both aware of and sensitive to the ward’s needs and preferences. If a court finds a person is in need of a guardian and a suitable one cannot be found, courts in many states can appoint a public guardian. That would be a publicly financed agency that serves this purpose.
If you are in need of a guardianship attorney that can help with your concerns of questions, call our offices today.
A LAW FIRM PROVIDING LGBT ESTATE PLANNING AND OTHER RELATED LEGAL SERVICES
Despite the great strides in LGBT legal affairs by our government, LGBT couples are still vulnerable when it comes to their rights as a couple. This is why our law firm provides estate planning and other services for any interested couples in the El Paso area. Without proper planning, you might have no rights when your partner really needs you. The need for an estate plan is critical in case of an accident or illness that might render you or your partner unable to make decisions or managing any affairs. You are taking the risk of not being excluded from having any role in each other’s care, financial affairs or even having access to each other.
An LGBT couple can avoid legal problems with the help of the estate planning services at the Law Offices of Neill & Associates, P.C. There are numerous methods and legal ways to avoid legal blocks if something were to happen to either one of you. These can include:
- A Living Trust: this can help establish your domestic partner as your trustee, which legally makes you managers of each other’s affairs if either of you becomes incapacitated. We can draw one up for each of you establishing each of you as trustee for the other. This also guarantees privacy by avoiding probate. This is beneficial for any clients who wish their relationship to remain confidential, if they choose.
- A Health Care Power of Attorney: this establishes your partner as your health care manager, which would allow them to maintain power over your health decisions, including having access to your partner during the period they remain incapacitated.
- Will Preparation: can ensure your assets are distributed how you want and to whom you decide.
- Guardianship Appointment: this will ensure that any surviving minor children are raised by the designated person.
Proper estate planning can help LGBT couples with things like spousal benefits and ensure that the correct avenues are taken to avoid penalties, extra taxation (when possible) and court and attorney costs of probate. The Law Offices of Neill & Associates, P.C., can also assist with legal needs such as name/gender change on legal documents, disposition of remains, powers of attorney and more. Call our offices today for more information.