Wills, Trusts, and Estates
Your family is your most cherished asset. Many times we take our health and our relationships for granted until a serious event occurs. Our attorneys will work with you to develop a plan so that you can make decisions now, in case your are not able to later.
We also work with clients who already have estate plans to review and revise those plans. Life is constantly changing; the decisions you made a few years ago may not be the decisions you would make today. Our attorneys can help ensure that your documents reflect your current situation.
What is an Estate?
Your estate includes anything you own. These may be physical assets, like real estate or personal property, or may be intangible assets, like copyrights.
Why Should I Consult an Estate Planning Attorney?
First, unless you have an estate plan in place at the time of your death, state law will decide how your estate is distributed. This often means that your estate will be distributed in a way you did not intend. Our attorneys will work with you to make sure that your property is distributed as you desire.
Second, our attorneys can help you preserve your assets, so that your loved ones get more. Before your family receives anything, probate court costs, taxes, and other complications can greatly diminish the value of your estate. We can help you avoid unnecessary probate costs and ensure that your estate pays no more than its required amount of taxes.
Finally, our attorneys, in consultation with your financial planning professional, can put your mind at ease by creating a plan that provides for the continued support and protection of your loved ones.
What Kinds of Services does Ginis Howa LLP Provide?
There are numerous tools we can use to protect the ones you care about. Some services our attorneys provide include:
- Traditional Wills and Trusts
- Special Needs Trusts to care for family members with health conditions
- Pet Trusts to care for your animal companions
- Advance Health Care Directives
- Powers of Attorney
- Organ Donation Requests
- Physician’s Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST)
What Can I Expect from a Consultation?
Before your consultation, we will send you a questionnaire to gather information about your family, your estate, and your goals. You should thoroughly complete this questionnaire and return it a few days ahead of your appointment so that your attorney can review it, ask follow up questions, and assess the best solutions for your goals.
Can You Help Clients With Unique Family Situations?
In our view, every family is unique. Our attorneys have special experience with unmarried families, same-sex parents and partners, registered domestic partnerships, and polyamourous families. No matter what your family looks like, our attorneys will treat you with respect and find the best solutions for you.
Even with the best planning, your loved ones will be left with extensive responsibilities to wind down your estate, pay taxes and creditors, and distribute your estate as you wish. During this trying time, your family members may feel unable to undertake court procedures and execute your final wishes. Our attorneys can assist through this often confusing process, and help ensure that your loved ones receive your final gifts to them as quickly as possible.
What is Probate, and How Can Ginis Howa LLP Help?
The probate court is the only authority that can transfer your property to someone else after your death. During the probate process, your next of kin must present your will (if any) to the court and apply for someone to be named “personal representative” of your estate. A personal representative is also sometimes called an executor. Your personal representative must make an inventory of your estate, notify all of your heirs and potential heirs of your passing, pay off your debts, and distribute the remainder as you have instructed. This process can be confusing, time consuming, and expensive. Our attorneys can help take on these burdens so that your family can grieve and comfort one another rather than dealing with administrative tasks. The probate court process is a long one, but our attorneys can help keep things timely and on track.
Can I Avoid Probate?
There are several ways to avoid the time and expense of probate. Some of those include joint bank accounts, beneficiary designations, and trusts. During the planning process, our attorneys can help determine if any of these is right for you. However, even when probate-avoidance tools are used, there’s often still much administration to be done.
What is Trust Administration?
A trust is a document that places your property in the name of someone else, known as a “trustee.” The trustee then manages and distributes the property as you instruct. The trustee has a duty to protect and manage your property, and must also file periodic reports with beneficiaries or the courts. For this reason, it’s important to have a trustee who will faithfully follow your instructions. Ginis Howa LLP can serve as your trustee, or can advise trustees to ensure that the proper formalities are followed and that the trust creator’s instructions are executed faithfully.