Wills, Trusts, & Estates
Your estate plan is a very personal matter. At Matthews & Jones, LLP, we explain the entire process to you so you can make informed decisions. We understand the importance of your legacy, which is why you’ll never have to worry about your attorney listening to your wishes before advising you on the specific tools that are available to implement your plan. It is important that you minimize the court’s involvement and tax consequences to lessen the burden your death or disability will have on your loved ones. Although, many clients are hesitant to engage an estate planning attorney due to concerns about cost. Invariably, the expense of an estate plan is cost effective relative to the consequences of an intestate probate proceeding or inadequate tax planning.
We advise you on the best ownership entity for your business during your lifetime, and can aid you so you can develop a plan to either continue your business or sell it after your passing through corporate redemptions, cross purchase agreements, ESOPs or corporate or partnership reorganizations. We help you plan for any special family needs (such as providing care for a disabled child, meeting the needs of a second marriage or a pending divorce, or passing the family business to some but not all of the children).
Has it been a while since you last updated your estate plan? There are certain times and life events that call for updates to your plan to make sure your wishes are followed. Broadly speaking, those life events include:
- Any time you buy or sell a property.
- Any time you move to a new country/state or your permanent address changes (without a new property purchase).
- Changes in relationship status (divorce, marriage, death of a spouse, remarrying).
- Changes in beneficiaries — addition of children/grandchildren, change in status of a beneficiary (i.e. an child needs adult guardianship care, a child ages into adulthood), or loss of a beneficiary.
- Changes in employment, especially if retirement accounts are tied to an employer.
- Changes in emergency contact or individuals granted power of attorney for any part of your estate.
- Increases in assets — especially if new assets are not included in your will/trust.
- You don’t have provisions for temporary or ongoing incapacitation or yourself and your spouse/partner.
- Tax laws have changed that would impact your trust as it exists now.
- You have inherited assets that alter your estate.
- You or your spouse/partner has retired or you are approaching retirement.
- And so on…
Areas of Practice
We evaluate the structure and ownership of your assets to optimally allocate business interests to involved family members, reduce administration expenses and your liability exposure.
To make sure your estate plan addresses all tax issues, we analyze your potential estate, gift, and generation-skipping taxes, and determine your liquidity needs to provide for your family and to pay taxes. We further address the feasibility of a gifting program and review your pension plans, profit sharing plans, IRAs, other retirement plans and deferred benefits to coordinate your estate plan with your designated beneficiaries of your life insurance and retirement benefits.
Our representation in the administration of estates includes representing the interests of the estate or a beneficiary in contests or disputes, advising family members, beneficiaries and fiduciaries regarding their rights and obligations, ensuring the property of the estate or trust is preserved, and helping to identify, preserve, and value these assets.
We will prepare your probate court filings and handle the court proceedings for testate or intestate estate matters. We will assist you with post mortem tax issues, prepare and settle fiduciary accounts, and deal with all aspects of any business which is an asset of the estate, including the negotiation of buy-sell agreements, the transfer of real estate or corporate tax and other related issues. We can also arrange the distribution of assets or establish trusts or foundations in accordance with the estate documentation.
Most people only need a will providing for an independent administration of your estate (to minimize the probate process and expense), and a disability plan to advance directives (to limit or eliminate the necessity of a guardianship proceeding.) We will assist you in determining who should act as the personal representative, trustee, or guardian.
We analyze tax and non-tax issues to optimize your charitable gifting plan. We prepare the necessary documents to make the gift, whether it is an outright or a more complicated gift such as a charitable remainder annuity trust, a charitable lead trust, or a private foundation.
We help our clients achieve maximum savings in income, estate, gift, and generation-skipping taxes. We handle the traditional aspects of personal estate planning, such as the preparation of revocable trusts, wills, and irrevocable trusts. In addition, we work closely with our clients to plan for the succession of family businesses and wealth among generations in a tax efficient manner. We analyze and implement the latest techniques to reduce estate and gift taxes and preserve our clients’ wealth, including limited liability business entities such as family limited partnerships and limited liability companies, grantor retained annuity trusts (GRATS), and charitable remainder and lead trusts.
We monitor the latest developments in both tax and non-tax laws affecting our clients. We handle the negotiation and preparation of marital agreements and provide asset protection planning for individuals. We assist clients with generational business succession planning and the preservation of family real estate holdings.
We provide representation in contested estate or trust matters involving contests of wills and trusts, disputes over the interpretation of estate plan documents and their modification or reformation, creditor matters, elective share proceedings, estate and trust accounting, determination of homestead, fiduciary removal and compensation.
We prepare wills, trusts, powers of attorney, living wills, irrevocable trusts, health care directives and other documents that are necessary to implement the plan you decide upon, and we will review these documents with you so that you understand how your wishes will be carried out.