A variety of legal strategies are involved in estate planning, including wills, revocable living trusts, irrevocable trusts, durable powers of attorney, and health care documents. It is common for new clients to say that they do not have an estate plan. Many people are surprised to learn that they actually do have a plan. After death, their estate will be distributed according to Utah’s intestacy laws unless they have made other plans. Obviously, this is not the plan they would have chosen. The terms of the State’s estate plan will be replaced by the terms of your own estate plan if a properly drafted estate plan is in place. Create your estate plan with the help of our Salt Lake City estate planning lawyers. Visit ascentlawfirm.com to learn more about real estate planning lawyers.
Our estate planning lawyers provide the following services:
A Last Will and Testament
The last will and testament is only one part of a comprehensive estate plan. A person who dies without a Will is said to have died “intestate,” and state laws determine how and to whom their assets will be distributed. The following are some things you should know about wills:
- There is no legal authority for a will until after death. In other words, a will does not assist a person when they are incapacitated, whether by illness or injury.
- Wills do not help estates avoid probate. Wills are legal documents submitted to the probate court, so they are basically admission tickets.
- You should include the guardians (or back-up parents) of your minor children in your will if they become orphans. It is important for all parents of minor children to document their choice of guardians. Your children could end up with the wrong guardians if you leave this to chance.
Various types of trusts: revocable living trusts, irrevocable trusts, testamentary trusts, special needs trusts, etc.
Trusts can be simple or complex, and they can serve a variety of legal, personal, investment or tax planning purposes. Trusts can be thought of as legal entities with at least three parties involved: the trust-maker, the trustee (trust manager), and the beneficiary. Oftentimes, all three The parties are represented by a single person or a couple. People can create revocable living trusts (the trust-maker) and name themselves as trustees (trust managers) who manage the trust assets for their own benefit (trust beneficiaries).
There are many benefits to establishing a trust, including the possibility of avoiding probate court. In most cases, assets owned in a revocable living trust will pass to trust beneficiaries (or heirs) upon the death of the trust-maker(s). A trust may also result in tax advantages for both the maker of the trust and the beneficiary of the trust. A trust can be used to protect property from creditors, or simply to provide for someone else to manage and invest property for the trust-maker(s) and the beneficiaries. In addition to their continued effectiveness even if the trust-maker dies or becomes incapacitated, trusts have the advantage of being well drafted. Contact our estate planning lawyers if you are interested in establishing a trust for your family.
A power of attorney
Powers of attorney give another person (the attorney-in-fact) legal authority to do certain things on your behalf. It depends on the terms of the document what those powers are. Powers of attorney can be very broad or very specific. All powers of attorney terminate upon the death of the maker and may terminate if the maker (principal) becomes incapacitated (unable to make or communicate decisions). In the event of incapacity, a durable power of attorney should be used to designate a back-up decision-maker. Banks and other financial institutions may be reluctant to honor a power of attorney that is over a year old if it is not updated frequently.