If a person has not transferred their assets to a trust or to others before they die, their estate needs to go through probate. The court reviews the assets and debts belonging to the person and determines the distribution of those assets and payment of debts. The probate process can be straightforward, but can sometimes be lengthy and complicated, depending on the estate. We work to streamline the process, whether you are a beneficiary, fiduciary, guardian, conservator, trustee, executor or administrator.
Taxes, or at least tax returns, are an important part of the process. We assist with federal and state gift taxes, inheritance taxes, and estate taxes, for you, your spouse, and your children. We assist with preparation of federal estate and inheritance tax returns and gift and generation-skipping tax returns. Or we can recommend qualified tax preparers to assist you with this process.
If a loved one does not have the mental capacity to care for themselves or make decisions, a guardianship is an option. We help clients apply for the guardianship, understand their roles and responsibilities as a guardian, file any necessary documents with the court, and advise on care options.
An adult with an impairment may require assistance in managing their financial affairs, in which case a conservatorship is an option. A conservator is a person who manages and cares for the financial interests of another. We assist clients through the process of applying for the conservatorship, explain their roles and responsibilities, and assist with the preparation of reports required by the courts.
Trusts are common estate planning tools. A trust is designed to prevent the need for probate proceedings and gives specific directions on how assets are to be distributed upon your death. A trust can be as simple as filing an accounting and writing checks to the beneficiaries, or it could be more complicated by having to sell real estate, conduct appraisals on collections, or operate or sell business interests. A trust may also be used to restrict or slow down distribution to beneficiaries by putting age restrictions or other qualifications in the trust. The trustee is responsible for making sure the terms of the trust are carried out and are sometimes given discretion in doing that. We can assist with every aspect of trust administration, including required accountings and reports, whether you are the trustee or a beneficiary.