At Shaw & Nelson, PLLC, we prepare wills and trusts as part of a comprehensive estate plan for clients in Louisville, Cincinnati, and the surrounding areas. Whether you only need a will-based plan or can benefit from establishing trusts, we are the experienced choice. Well-versed in the applicable trust, estate, and probate laws, we have an impeccable reputation for adhering to the highest professional and ethical standards. Contact us today to get started with an experienced wills and trusts attorney.
Estate Planning Starts With Creating a Will
A will is the most basic estate planning document; it serves several purposes, such as:
- Determining the distribution of your assets after you pass away
- Naming beneficiaries to inherit the assets according to a distribution plan
- Designating a personal representative (executor) to carry out the instructions of the will
- Naming a guardian to care for minor children
While this seems straightforward, creating a will is not a ‘once-and-done’ arrangement. You can and should update your will to align with life’s transitions, such as marriage, having children, acquiring property, accumulating wealth, and nearing retirement.
Without a will, your property will be distributed according to your state’s intestacy laws, prioritizing spouses, children, and parents. Because the state’s distribution plan may not agree with your wishes, the wrong people may inherit your estate. This means formally declaring your wishes in a will is imperative.
Do I Need an Attorney to Prepare a Will?
Form estate planning documents, including wills, are easily accessible from the internet, but working with an experienced wills and trusts attorney is a wise choice. At Shaw & Nelson, we regularly draw up wills for clients from all walks of life. You can depend on us to help you avoid the costly mistakes of creating a will on your own, not the least of which is the potential for disputes among your intended beneficiaries.
When you partner with us, we will take the time to understand your circumstances and tailor your will to your needs and objectives. We will also help to prepare other essential estate planning documents, including:
- Durable power of attorney: appointing a trusted person to act as your agent to manage your financial affairs should you become temporarily or permanently incapacitated.
- Advanced healthcare directive or healthcare proxy: naming someone to make medical decisions on your behalf if you cannot communicate your preferences
- Living Will: declaring the type of life-sustaining treatment you wish to receive or have withheld if your condition is terminal or irreversible and death is imminent
While having a will is critically important, there are disadvantages to will-based estate plans: a will is subject to probate, the court-supervised proceeding in which the will is validated and the estate assets are distributed among the named beneficiaries. Depending on the estate’s value, probate can be lengthy and costly. This is also a public proceeding that exposes your estate to unnecessary scrutiny. For this reason, many of our clients consider establishing trust-based estate plans.
Trusts: An Inclusive Estate Planning Tool
A common misconception is that trusts are exclusively for wealthy individuals seeking asset protection. However, trusts serve several estate planning goals, including avoiding probate, providing for loved ones with special needs, and protecting assets from taxes and creditor claims.
What Is a Trust?
A trust is a legal arrangement in which the grantor, the person creating the trust, designates a trustee to manage trust assets for the benefit of named beneficiaries. While trusts known as inter vivos trusts are frequently established within wills to protect minor beneficiaries, there are also standalone trusts that offer unique advantages. Common types of trusts include:
Separate from wills, living trusts are used in conjunction with wills to ensure the decedent’s wishes are fulfilled. These trusts take ownership of the property while allowing the grantor to manage it during their lifetime. The primary benefit of a revocable living trust is that it avoids probate, although all trusts must undergo a trust administration phase to honor their terms.
These trusts protect individuals with special needs, including minors, who receive public disability benefits like Social Security Disability or Medicaid. Since an inheritance could disqualify them from these crucial benefits, establishing a trust ensures their eligibility while providing income to cover their basic needs.
Charitable trusts serve the dual purposes of minimizing estate taxes and leaving a charitable legacy. For instance, a charitable remainder trust involves transferring property into a trust, with a named beneficiary receiving income for a specific period. Afterward, the remaining assets are distributed to a chosen charity.
These are only a few of the various trust options available. Regardless of the size of your estate, trusts prove effective in protecting assets and providing for your loved ones. You can depend on us to design a trust-based estate plan that helps you to achieve your goals.
Talk To An Experienced Wills and Trusts Attorney At Shaw & Nelson Today!
Wills and trusts are essential estate planning tools, but choosing which option is best is challenging. By working with our dedicated legal team, you can plan your estate with confidence. Contact our office today to get started.