Estate Planning, Trusts & Probate
Within the areas of Estate Planning, Trust and Probate law and litigation, we provide the following full range of services:
Estate Planning – Fundamental
Although a large part of estate planning concerns minimizing tax and avoiding probate, for most of us it starts with the simple idea of how you want to distribute your assets upon death.
SMWB's goal is to make the estate planning process easy. We educate our clients as to all their options and guide them in choosing the ones most appropriate for them. In creating an estate plan, you shouldn't just end up with a fancy binder full of trust, powers of attorney and healthcare directive documents, but rather a well thought out estate plan that will ensure your wishes and directions are followed.
Most people are concerned with the following issues:
- Who will manage my assets and healthcare decisions if I can't?
- How do I ensure my children receive as much of my property as possible without substantial taxes?
- How do I ensure my estate is settled fairly, quickly and efficiently?
- Who will take care of my young children and/or help them with the assets I leave them?
- Will any inheritance I leave my child end up with his or her spouse if my child divorces?
- Can I provide for my spouse and ensure that my property eventually goes to my children?
No matter what your situation, everyone should take some time to plan their estate. Although starting this process can be intimidating, it is important to find an experienced estate planning attorney who you are comfortable with. This relationship should last a lifetime. You should feel as though you can take the extra time to ask questions and make sure you understand your various estate planning options and their results. All of our estate plans are billed on a fixed fee basis and we encourage our clients to take their time. If you have questions we want you to ask them without feeling it will cost you more. You should feel that your attorney will be available when you need him or her; whether it be to ask a simple question or to help guide you through the process of utilizing your estate planning documents.
Estate Planning – Advanced Techniques
We specialize in advanced estate planning strategies to handle the transfer of business interests and real estate. We ensure that families can save taxes, increase wealth, and control assets. Many of our clients are particularly interested in developing a plan that ensures the orderly continuation of their business or of other substantial assets. A good succession plan must not only minimize income tax, property tax and estate and gift tax, but it must address the important issue of governance; who will be in charge and how will decisions be decided within the family. We have the skills to handle advanced estate and gift tax planning techniques for high net worth individuals in addition to the basic estate planning needs of all individuals. SMWB prepares wills, revocable trusts, irrevocable trusts (including charitable trusts, trusts for minors, life insurance trusts, generation-skipping trusts or dynasty trusts, grantor retained annuity trusts ("GRATs"), and qualified personal residence trusts ("QPRTs") as well as family limited partnerships ("FLPs"), limited liability companies ("LLCs"), and private foundations on a routine basis.
Probate, Trust Administration & Conservatorships
We advise fiduciaries (which includes trustees, executors and conservators) in regard to their administrative tasks and fiduciary duties as well as beneficiaries in regard to their rights to estate and/or trust property. Upon death we assist our clients in the efficient transfer of assets whether through probate or private trust administration and ensure that all of their duties are properly carried out.
Probate and Trust Litigation
In responding to any situation, we ensure that our client's needs are promptly and efficiently met. Mr. Schmidt, the resident Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law expert, in conjunction with other litigation attorneys at SMWB, represents beneficiaries and fiduciaries in the following types of litigation:
- Will and Trust Contests
- Interpretation of Estate Planning Documents
- Determinations of Heirship and Asset Ownership
- Accounting Controversies
- Fiduciary Appointment and Removal
- Constructive Trusts
- Creditor's Claims
- Disputes Concerning the Characterization of Property
- Elder Abuse