Charlotte Wills & Estate Planning Lawyers
Gorman & Associates can handle anything in the will, trust, and estate planning and estate administration areas. Anyone’s estate will be more smoothly administered if they take the time to draft a will, but for those with minor children, real estate, or substantial assets, a will is critical. Also, many clients are surprised to learn how difficult and expensive probate can be. We can clearly and concisely explain various methods of legally and ethically avoiding probate, and reducing or eliminating the tax burden from your beneficiaries, which are often not costly or complicated.
The term “simple will” refers to any will that does not involve estate planning. When minor children are involved, the crucial guardianship provisions and a minors’ trust are always included within the will.
Living Wills/Powers of Attorney
We can draft and explain to you all of the commonly used documents such as a durable power of attorney (which still applies in the event of incapacity), a living will (also known as a declaration of desire for natural death), and a health care power of attorney (for someone to make medical decisions for you in the event of incapacity).
Probate (Estate Administration)
“Probate” is the legal process by which an estate is administered at the courthouse. A will is probated, and the assets that pass through the will are probated. There is a probate tax (not to be confused with estate tax) levied upon all assets that are probated. For sizeable or complex estates, we can handle all of the estate administration and probate matters, taking the burden off of the Executor or Administrator on a flat fee basis, which is explained and agreed to in advance, to assist them in administering the estate, preparing the preliminary inventory, application for letters testamentary, publication of notice to creditors, 90- day inventory, annual and final inventories, etc.
Trusts Used to Avoid Probate
Trusts are often used for a variety of reasons. Many of our clients prefer to set up a revocable trust (a form of “living” trust, or inter-vivos trust), and place their assets in it, in order to avoid the time, hassle, and expense of probate. For many of our clients with moderate to larger estates, estate tax planning considerations overshadow the importance of probate avoidance. All trusts are not alike; trusts set up to avoid probate can be quite different in focus than those set up to avoid estate taxes.
Trusts & Estate Planning
Estate taxes become an issue whenever the total estate, including life insurance at its face value, retirement plans, stocks and investments, real estate, and all other assets, exceeds $5,490,000. At the basic estate planning level, trusts are used to shelter an additional unified credit for both the husband and wife, leaving the children or other beneficiaries with double the exemption amount tax free. These are called “credit shelter” trusts, which are known by a variety of names (all variations on the same theme), such as A-B trusts, bypass trusts, and family trusts. We can help design a plan which is right for you.
Advanced Estate Planning
Our philosophy is to keep the plan as simple as possible, but at the same time to accomplish your tax-saving objectives. However, for those clients with larger estates who need more sophisticated estate planning, we can draft Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts (ILITs), Family Limited Partnerships, Charitable Remainder Trusts, as well as other advanced trusts and estate planning documents, and provide thorough explanations as to how these instruments can be helpful to you. We also can explain and implement various gifting and Charitable Trust options that are available. Please call us to discuss your needs with one of our estate planning attorneys.
In today’s ever-changing world, more and more of our clients need to insure that their assets are protected from creditors and frivolous claims and lawsuits. There are many legal and ethical techniques we can use to protect your assets. The key is to start early. Contact us, and we will be glad to put our experience to work for you.
While Gorman & Associates does not release the identities of our will, estate planning, and estate administration clients, we do receive referrals from a number of trust companies, estate planning professionals, stock brokers, and financial advisors. Individuals have referred us their clients from, and we can provide references from, the following organizations:
Merrill Lynch; Ameriprise Financial Advisors; Branch Banking & Trust Company (BB&T); Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company; Wells Fargo Private Financial Advisors; Thompson Financial Group; and UBS Paine Webber.