Practice Overview

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Estate Planning

We have met with hundreds of couples and individuals to discuss and prepare their estate planning documents. All of which is calculated to carry out the intentions of our clients. Although no situation is identical to another, there are several issues that we regularly work through with our clients, such as:

  • How to reduce the chances of a Will or trust contest
  • How to protect your assets from creditors or other claimants
  • How to pass the family business or farm effectively to your family

The breadth and depth of our experience will give you confidence in the information and tools we give you to carry out your intentions.

Trusts

A trust is an arrangement where one person holds and manages property for the benefit of another person. The terms “living trust,” “family trust,” “revocable trust” and “inter vivos trust” essentially mean the same thing and are interchangeable. A revocable trust is one that the creators have the continuing right to change or cancel any time they are competent to do so – much like a Will. A revocable trust usually is made with the creator being the trustee and the beneficiary, meaning that the creator continues to manage and use his or her assets for their own benefit during their lifetime.

The overall benefits of a properly prepared revocable trust are that your family will avoid court involvement at your death, and, if you become incapacitated prior to your death, your family will avoid the need for a conservator to be appointed to manage your assets for you during the period of incapacity.

Wills

A Will is a document that conforms with state law that disposes of a person’s property, and declares who should be the guardian of any minor children of the decedent. A will is amendable so long as the person has capacity. A Will must be probated with three years of the death of the decedent or it is void and no longer enforceable. If the estate is small enough and certain laws are in play, a Will can be relied upon and used without probate in certain circumstances.

Family Law

Family life can get complicated, whether you are looking to adopt a new child or are overwhelmed by an impending divorce. These situations can be very stressful and very emotional, so we handle every case with care and experience, because we feel it vital to help guide you through the process. Our experienced family law attorneys can help you with a wide range of legal issues, such as marriage, divorce, adoption, child custody, spousal support, domestic abuse, and elderly abuse.

Probate

Generally, probate means to involve a court in the disposition of a person’s property at that person’s incapacity or death. For example, we use the probate court and probate laws when we deal with the estate of a minor person, of a person with Alzheimer’s Disease, or a person’s estate at death if there are assets that need court involvement to distribute.

Appointment of Personal Representative

Usually at the time a Will is probated or the heirs are determined by statute, a personal representative is appointed to administer the estate. Typically the court is not heavily involved in this process unless one of the interested persons wants the court’s direct involvement over the administration process. Once the assets have been inventoried and enforceable debts have been paid, the Personal Representative can close the estate.