You have worked hard for many years to build and protect your estate. After your death, what will happen to all of your assets and land that has been in your family for years?
Our firm can help you determine the best way to title your assets before your death and the most cost-efficient way to transfer your assets after your death to ensure that your assets are transferred to the people and/or charities you desire with as little administration expense and inheritance taxes as possible.
A Will - the Essential Part of Your Estate Plan
Every estate plan should include a properly drafted Will. If the value of the estate is small, then a simple Will may be sufficient to transfer your assets. In addition, if you have minor children, you will need to consider guardian provisions and the creation of a testamentary trust to manage assets for your children until they become older. However, if the value of the estate is larger and real estate is involved, it is probably better to have your assets held in a Trust and have a pour-over Will as a back-up.
A Trust can accomplish many different goals, such as managing assets in the event of incapacity, avoiding probate, lowering potential estate and inheritance taxes, and directing the distribution of your assets upon your death. The purpose of the pour-over Will is to direct that any assets that are not held in the Trust at the time of your death be “poured-over” into the Trust and distributed in accordance with the instructions contained in the Trust.
There are three basic types of trusts:
One of the most frequently used trust is a Revocable Trust. This type of Trust is created during a person’s lifetime and can be altered during the lifetime of the person who created the Trust. Assets held in a Revocable Trust are subject to estate and inheritance taxes.
A Testamentary Trust is frequently used by parents of minor children to provide a means of managing assets for their children until the children are older. This type of trust is established in a Will (thus the reason for the term “testamentary”) and is only created upon the death of the person who created the Will.
An Irrevocable Trust cannot be altered after it is created. However, the assets held in an Irrevocable Trust are not generally subject to estate and inheritance taxes.
For larger estates, our firm has experience in using specialized trusts and limited liability entities to reduce overall estate and inheritance taxes at death.
Executors/Administrators and Trustees
While our firm can help you develop an estate plan, we also have substantial experience assisting executors and administrators (Nebraska refers to these folks as a “Personal Representative”) in the probate process after a person dies. Probate is a judicial proceeding required by law to transfer assets from a deceased person to the individuals and/or charities named in the deceased person’s Will.
If you are named as a Personal Representative in a Will or would like to become the Personal Representative of the estate of a family member who did not have a Will, our firm can assist you in becoming appointed by the probate court to administer the estate. We will then continue to assist throughout the probate process until all estate matters have been addressed and the estate can be closed.
If you have been appointed as a Trustee of a Trust, we can also assist you in administering the trust estate, determining whether any estate and inheritance taxes are due, and then distributing the trust assets to the individuals and/or charities as instructed by the Trust.
Special Needs Planning
Our firm also has experience drafting special needs trusts to assist families in planning for children or other family members who are disabled or have special needs and are likely to require special care or education that may not otherwise be covered by health insurance or available government programs.