Speak to an experienced Riverton Utah probate lawyer to know how you can use estate planning methods to reduce estate taxes. The United States is famous for its tax laws. We even tax the dead. Yes, this is done through estate taxes.
The main goals of estate planning are to ensure that the individual’s wishes are carried out, to minimize problems for the survivors, and to reduce estate taxes. The legal documents used to accomplish these goals include a durable power of attorney, a will, and, for some patients, a trust. Estate planning usually requires the services of an expert – an experienced Riverton Utah probate lawyer.
A durable power of attorney is a financial document that allows a named person, the attorney-in-fact, to handle the patient’s assets in certain specified ways. This document is called durable because it remains in effect even in the event that the patient becomes incapacitated.
The durable power of attorney for health care is a special power of attorney encompassing only medical decisions. In many cases, the durable power of attorney for health care is included in a durable general power of attorney. As seriously ill patients find that they require a legal document that addresses financial concerns, a durable general power of attorney typically fulfills this purpose.
A will is a legal document that specifies how a person’s property is to be passed to survivors at the time of his or her death. A will stipulates one or more beneficiaries who will benefit from the estate. It also names an executor whose duties include paying residual bills and guaranteeing that the intentions of the deceased are carried out. Never attempt to make a will on your own. Under Utah law there are certain requirements for a valid will. Speak to an experienced Riverton Utah probate lawyer before making a will. Inform the lawyer about your assets and how you want your assets to be distributed after your death. Remember, Utah law gives you the right to determine how your assets will be distributed after your death. However, this right must be exercised before death. If you die without a will, Utah law will determine who gets a share in your estate and how much.
Probate refers to the legal process whereby the property is inventoried, expenses are paid, and remaining assets are passed on to the appropriate beneficiaries. The local probate court oversees this process, the administration of which commonly requires a year to complete. Probate is a complex process. Seek the assistance of an experienced Riverton Utah probate lawyer if you want to probate a will.
It should be noted that the probate process is sometimes unnecessary in the settlement of an estate. Some types of property, referred to as nonprobate property, may legally pass to the designated persons without the authorization of probate court. Such nonprobate properties include annuities, proceeds from life insurance, pensions, and jointly owned assets like bank accounts or houses. Because joint ownership yields the double benefit of avoiding probate and enabling property to pass quickly to the survivors, this strategy is widely relied on in estate planning.
To enable orderly disposition of the affairs of someone who dies, the law provides machinery for payment of debts, death taxes, and expenses of administration, and for distribution of remaining assets to those entitled to the estate under the terms of the will or, if there is no will, under the applicable Utah intestate laws. This is done by appointment of a personal representative, generally called an “executor, ” if named in the will or an “administrator” if not named in the will. The personal representative has the right and obligation to take possession of the property and to apply it to the payment of funeral expenses, debts, and the costs of administering the estate. Costs of administration usually include compensation to the personal representative and a fee to counsel for the estate.
The remainder is distributed to the individuals named in the will.
If there is no will, the person is said to have died “intestate,” and the estate is distributed according to the intestate laws of the state where the deceased lived (if the estate includes land located in another state, the intestate laws of the second state apply to the land). The intestate laws in most of the United States derive from English common law. The surviving spouse, if there is one, gets a share of the estate, usually one-third or one-half (the fraction varies depending on the number of children), and the rest of the estate goes in equal shares to surviving children and descendants of children who have died. The descendants divide the equal share the deceased child would have received if living. If there are no children or descendants of children, the property that does not go to the surviving spouse will typically go to parents and, if there are no parents, to brothers and sisters. The law inheritance by remote relatives; if there are no next of kin closer than some designated degree such as first cousin or children of first cousins, the property that does not pass to the surviving spouse will go to the state.
The intestate pattern is frequently unsatisfactory to a married person who primarily wants to make sure that his or her spouse will be adequately taken care of and wishes to provide for children or others only out of funds not likely to be needed for the spouse. Intestate laws may also fail to take care of the special cases of adopted children or stepchildren and, of course, make no provision for non-relatives or favored charities.
In the absence of a will, the probate court must select an administrator to settle the estate. Preference is usually given to those who will inherit under the intestate laws or to their nominees. Depending upon the family situation, these may or may not be persons the deceased would have considered qualified.
If minors are among the next of kin of someone who dies without leaving a will, it will usually be necessary, unless the amount involved is small, to have a guardian appointed by the court to receive their shares of the estate. In many states, the court will not appoint a surviving parent or other close relative who might be the very person the deceased would have chosen.
The expense of settling an intestate estate usually is higher than for an estate administered under a will. The extra costs can arise in various ways. An administrator must often incur filing fees, legal costs, etc., by going to court to obtain authority to perform the same duties that the executor performs under the terms of the will.
The point is not that the interstate laws are bad or poorly drafted, but that they necessarily provide only an “average” solution to a problem that the owner of property failed to prepare for.
The homemade will has done almost as much as the automobile accident to foster litigation and enrich lawyers at the expense of bereaved families. Nonetheless, the idea persists that a will is a simple document anyone can write or, if extra care is necessary, create by filling in blanks on a printed form. Part of the problem may be that, like a graceful sculpture or a Picasso line drawing, a well-drawn will can have an economy of style that makes it deceptively simple so that the casual reader does not appreciate the skill and professional knowledge required to discriminate between what can be and what must not be omitted. The purpose of technical provisions may also not be readily apparent.
Too many people still write their own wills, probably expecting to save time or expense. Don’t. You will not be there when your will becomes operative. It’s your near and dear ones who will then have to suffer. Let an experienced Riverton Utah probate lawyer prepare your last will and testament.
For a simple will that gives everything outright to a surviving spouse or children, it may make sense to name the person or persons who will receive the estate as executors. They will be looking after their own money and as long as they are reasonably capable of attending to business and are generally available, they can obtain all the technical advice they need from the attorney for the estate. Do, however, give some thought to geographical availability. Also, it is usually better to avoid appointing so many people as executors (for example, all the children), that there is no pinpointing of responsibility. For larger estates, particularly when property is passing in trust, it may be advisable to appoint an executor with experience in the administration of estates. Often, there will be some person such as a son or daughter, family accountant, or family attorney who is a logical choice. In metropolitan areas, there are trust companies which are highly experienced in this field and can provide excellent guidance. Frequently, a good combination is a trust company plus an individual such as the surviving spouse, child, attorney, or other family advisor who is appointed to serve with the bank and who maintains contact between the beneficiaries and the bank.
Of all the choices you must take when choosing a mutual fund, the last place you would expect to make an error is in the way you put your name on the paperwork. Yet this simple step–one that transforms you from potential buyer to owner–could leave you open to future problems based on how you register your investment.
Probate is the state judicial process that determines the value of a deceased’s estate. Registering your account is an estate-planning issue. The idea is to maximize what goes to your heirs and avoid the headaches of probate. Mutual-fund holdings typically are subject to probate.
If the couple had created “bypass trusts,” the asset could have been split, each partner having a trust for their half. When the husband dies, the trust holds the money, with income given to the wife. When she dies, the principal is distributed–without estate taxes–according to instructions laid out when the trust was created. Her assets, also below the taxable limit, get passed on without estate taxes, too, thereby writing Uncle Sam out of the will.
Consult an experienced Riverton Utah probate lawyer to know about the right type of registration for your situation.
The bottom line is that you should not register assets emotionally but instead should get help to determine the best course of action for your heirs. In addition, you need to realize that many funds don’t list all registration options on their paperwork, meaning you must find out whether you need additional forms or whether you can submit a letter to get the account registered the way you want.
To get you started, here are the registration options you are likely to find on most fund account applications:
Sole ownership – This is a self-explanatory term. All responsibilities rest with the individual. When the owner dies, assets are distributed in accordance with his or her will (or divided according to state succession laws if the owner dies without a will).
Joint tenants with rights of survivorship – This is how most couples register shares. This lets one or more people–related or not–share ownership; when one dies, the shares avoid probate and pass directly to the survivor (although the amount still counts toward the value of the estate). If you change registration from sole to joint with anyone other than your spouse, you have made a gift.
Tenants in common – These partners share ownership, but by a specified amount (not necessarily a 50-50 split). When one partner dies, the money goes to the estate, not the survivor, and is passed along according to instructions in the will.
An experienced Riverton Utah probate lawyer is your best source of information when it comes to wills and inheritance. Speak to an experienced Riverton Utah probate lawyer before you make a will or if you want to probate a will.
Riverton Utah Probate Attorney Free Consultation
When you need legal help with a probate case in Riverton Utah, please call Ascent Law LLC (801) 676-5506 for your Free Consultation. We can help you with a contested probate case, an uncontested probate matter, a last will and testament dispute, a probate litigation case, a trust or will matter, a probate mediation or a probate arbitration. We can also help you with estate planning, including drafting a will, trust, power of attorney and health care directive. Call us because we want to help you.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506