Estate Planning & Probate
Estate Planning Lawyer in Provo, UT
Benefits of an Estate Plan: Simplicity & Efficiency
An estate plan controls what happens to your assets while you are alive, as well as after you pass away. An estate plan does not consist of one document, but several individual documents that create an overall fully functioning estate plan.
Investment planning is an important feature of the estate planning process we can walk you through in our Provo law office. When creating an investment plan, you must consider all present and future expenses, such as funding children’s educations, paying for health care, and providing assisted living to care for elderly parents or for when you get older.
This type of financial preparation often prompts tax planning. You may wish to consider how to reduce or eliminate estate and gift taxes and understand which taxes need to be paid after you pass. An estate plan also includes asset protection planning, which is beneficial if you are ever sued during your lifetime. When you create a will and an estate plan, you want to protect your family in every possible way, and ensure that your wishes are carried out after you die. A Utah County estate planning attorney from our firm can assist clients in the Provo-Orem area in creating new estate plans, or amending previously constructed plans.
Why Have an Estate Plan?
People may think estate plans only benefit the wealthy, but this is far from the truth. Estate planning benefits anyone who has assets, property, or loved ones. Failure to create or update an estate plan can cause a myriad of problems for your loved ones. Dying without a will means that the Utah probate court will divide your assets and properties according to state law. If an estate plan is properly created, it can ensure that the individuals you choose to inherit your estate will actually receive it. Depending on the types of trusts you include in your estate plan, you may also leave assets to your favorite charities or religious organization.
Another important part of estate planning is preparing for incapacitation. Guardianship, or conservatorship, is the legal proceeding in a state court that appoints a person to become a “Guardian” or “Conservator” for an incapacitated person. The incapacitated person is called a “Ward.” The Guardian or Conservator will have the ability to exercise some or all of the legal rights of the Ward. A guardianship or conservatorship is terminated, along with any legal rights held for the benefit of the Ward, when the Ward passes away.
Unless the Ward prepares beforehand, the appointment of a Guardian or Conservator will be at the discretion of the judge. Our lawyers will discuss this possibility with you and help you take the legal steps necessary to select a potential Guardian in advance. In addition, if you do become incapacitated, our firm can assist the person you selected to be your Guardian or Conservator through the court process to become legally appointed.
Probate: A Necessary Evil?
Probate is the legal process for transferring a decedent’s estate to its intended beneficiaries. The process can be quite expensive and time-consuming. Some people may believe that it is impossible to avoid probate. However, if you create or give certain types of trusts, accounts, gifts, and/or ownerships, you may minimize the probate court’s involvement, or avoid the probate process entirely. If your estate qualifies as a small estate, you may be given shortcuts through probate, or evade probate of your estate entirely. In order to learn more about how to avoid probate, talk to an experienced estate planning attorney at Jason White & Associates today. Our attorneys can construct an estate plan that will ensure certain properties and assets do not go through probate. Contact a Utah County estate planning attorney from our Provo law firm today to learn more!
Ways We Can Help You Minimize Probate Court Involvement
Revocable living trusts are just one type of trust that can help you avoid probate. You hold certain assets in the trust while you are alive, so that after you pass away, the property is not considered part of your probate estate. The person or entity that you named as trustee has legal title to the trust property, and he or she can transfer your assets to the predetermined beneficiaries. Payable-on-death registrations and accounts may also avoid probate. You can convert your bank and retirement accounts to payable-on-death accounts by filling out simple paperwork and naming a beneficiary. When you die, your beneficiary will receive the money without going through probate.
If you have joint ownership of a property, the property will not have to go through probate upon your death. The surviving co-owner will automatically receive the property without the hassle of having to complete the probate process. Giving away assets and property while you are still alive may also help your family avoid the probate process, but extreme care should be taken, as this could result in adverse tax consequences to the giver or recipients of the gifts. Once you give an item away, you no longer can claim ownership of that asset. It may be beneficial to give away your estate’s most expensive items prior to your death, in order to lower possible probate costs. However, lifetime gifts of assets should never be made without proper guidance from an experienced estate planning attorney.
Do Not Delay in Creating Your Estate Plan!
Too many people die without an estate plan. It does not matter if you are single or have a family; the benefits of estate planning are still profound. Estate plans can save you and everyone you love time, money, and stress. Dying without an estate plan means that your estate and family will be at the mercy of the probate court. We are here to help residents of Provo, Orem, and other Utah communities avoid this potentially disastrous situation. Please contact an attorney from our firm today.