Wealth Management & Preservation

An estate may consist of tangible assets of real and personal property which belong to a natural person. The property of the estate must either be bequeathed through a will or transferred through the laws of intestacy if there is no will.

A will is the most commonly used legal instrument for the distribution of the property of a deceased person. Before property can be disposed of pursuant to the terms of a will, the will must be submitted to a probate court having jurisdiction of the estate of the deceased. Probate is often considered a relatively lengthy and expensive process, albeit one which may provide greater safeguards with regard to the rights of a deceased person’s beneficiaries, though probate often is contested by creditors or disgruntled members of the family of the deceased who feel they have not received their fair share of the deceased’s property.

In order to expedite the process of transferring assets to intended beneficiaries, some people choose to arrange their property so that it can bypass the probate process upon their deaths. For example, placing property into a trust before death (as opposed to a testamentary trust) will often allow the accomplishment of the objectives of property distribution without coming under the jurisdiction of a court and the possible redistribution after a lengthy contested probate process and trial.

Another major factor in trusts and estates law may be to minimize one’s tax exposure. After an applicable exempt amount, the United States federal estate tax very quickly approaches 50% of one’s taxable estate. The applicable exempt amount is currently one million dollars. The proper use of trusts may reduce one’s tax burden.

If you are interested in forming a trust, contact us to discuss various options available to you.