Charlotte & Sumter Estate Planning Lawyer
For most people, estate planning is an emotional process, but it is essential to prepare for the future. We at Montgomery and Hart are well aware of how sensitive this topic can be. Our attorneys have spent countless hours working with clients at our Sumter law firm on these sometimes complex issues.
Estate Planning Services For The Entire Family
The first thing we do is determine what your needs are. It is not uncommon for clients to require nothing more than a simple will. Most of the time, however, the estate planning process goes beyond the last Will and Testament, taking into account critical legal ramifications that ensure your loved ones are taken care of, and your wishes are honored. Through tools such as trusts and property ownership planning, proper estate planning can also help avoid probate in the event of a death. Additionally, a lawyer specializing in estate planning can help make the golden years golden by securing income and reducing taxes through retirement planning.
Proper estate planning involves many factors, including:
- Plan for incapacity, including health care and financial powers of attorney, guardianships, and conservatorships. Also, we can assist if someone becomes incapacitated unexpectedly.
- Special needs planning: ensuring that disabled family members are taken care of financially through mechanisms such as trusts
- Planning for minor children: selecting a guardian
- Whether your business is operated by your family or sold, succession and asset protection planning is necessary to ensure that it continues to thrive.
- Creating trust mechanisms such as a living trust or testamentary trust allows you to set aside money to provide for your spouse or children. We can also help you create charitable trusts.
Our firm has worked with clients from a wide range of economic backgrounds. Over time, we work with people to revise their estate plans as their needs and circumstances change.
Experience, compassion, and skill are three qualities we possess. An attorney with our firm has extensive experience handling estate planning & probate matters and helping clients with varying wealth levels plan for their families’ future. Find out how an estate planning attorney can assist you.
Tasks An Estate Planning Attorney Can Help With
Our estate planning attorneys are helpful during the estate planning process and through the probate court process afterward. You can count on our expertise to help you navigate state and federal estate laws.
A licensed and experienced estate planning attorney, also known as an estate law attorney, or a probate attorney, is an attorney with a thorough understanding of the state and federal laws that drive your estate’s inventory, valuation, distribution, and taxation after your death. In addition to educating you about the probate process, an estate planning attorney can assist you with the following tasks:
- Asset Protection
- Elder Law & Long Term Care Planning
- Estate Administration or Probate of the Estate
- Fiduciary Appointments
- Health Saving Account (HSA Account)
- Medicaid Planning
- Prenuptial Agreements
- Probate Avoidance
- Special Needs Trusts
- Trigger Trusts
- Wills & Trusts
Any person with a power of attorney over an estate of a recently deceased person can also work with an estate planning attorney in the process of probate court. Some estate planning attorneys can help you avoid probate court altogether, but this will largely depend on the type and legal transfer of the deceased’s assets.
Suppose a beneficiary (or even someone who has not named a beneficiary) announces that they intend to contest the will of someone you also stand to benefit from. In that case, you might benefit from consulting an estate planning attorney immediately. Legal action can drain funds from an estate quickly, leaving all beneficiaries in a bind.
If you or someone you love needs help planning for the long term, we can help. Whether you are planning your inheritance, navigating benefits, or receiving all your family member is entitled to, we can offer you advice. Together with financial advisers and other professionals, we develop comprehensive plans tailored to your specific situation. Accommodations at nursing homes and care facilities, document signings, and family disputes are some of our services. In contrast to just preparing a simple will, which may omit several vital issues, comprehensive planning allows us to develop a unique plan that suits your specific situation. We can also assist you with social security benefits, Medicare, Medicaid, veterans benefits, senior housing decisions, and other elder law issues.
It can be difficult, expensive, and emotional to handle the probate process. In addition to discussing various probate avoidance techniques, our attorneys can help you design a comprehensive estate planning plan that works for your family and finances so that your loved ones don’t have to go through probate. The use of life estate deeds or joint tenants with the right of survivorship, LLCs or living trusts, and transferring ownership of smaller assets that usually go through probate so that they do not have to go through probate are some ways to avoid probates.
There may be a need to file probate in each county or state if you own property in more than one. Rather than having to file multiple ancillary estates in every location where you own real estate, we can develop a plan for your property that avoids the time and expense of numerous court filings.
It is not the best solution for everyone to avoid probate. Alternative plans may be more appropriate depending on your specific situation. We will discuss the benefits and drawbacks of probate avoidance during your estate planning consultation.
Wills & Trusts
Only half of the battle is won by drafting appropriate legal documents. It is also important to adequately fund a will or trust. An effective plan should include your wishes and be carried out correctly. The records generated by discount estate planners or online “lawyer-assisted” websites usually do not address all the issues that may arise. How can you fix a problem if you don’t know what could go wrong or what you are leaving out?
Should you be incapable of managing your finances or making health care decisions, we can help you select the appropriate fiduciaries. Fiduciaries are those with whom the beneficiaries have a special relationship of trust and good faith. Their judgment is generally used to determine what is beneficial to the beneficiary.
For Incapacitated Adults: A Guardianship action can be filed with the Probate Court if someone is believed to be incapacitated and incapable of making their own health care decisions. A Legal Guardian will be appointed with authority and responsibility for the person’s health care and medical decisions.
The appointed Agent could use the Health Care Power of Attorney to make health care decisions for the incompetent person if the person had previously been competent. The appointed Agent had previously been designated as an Agent under the Health Care Power of Attorney.
In the event of a parent’s death: When you care for a child or incapacitated person, your will or trust should name a person who will act as their legal guardian after your death. Typically, a surviving parent who lives with and has custody of a minor child will automatically maintain sole custody; however, alternates should be named if he or she is unable or unwilling.
It is possible to file a Conservatorship Action with the Probate Court if someone is deemed incapacitated and unable to make their own financial decisions, thereby requiring that a Legal Conservator be appointed with the authority and responsibilities over their finances.
The appointed Agent can use the Durable Financial Power of Attorney to make financial decisions for now incapacitated person if the person was previously competent and had designated an Agent in their Durable Financial Power of Attorney.
Depending on an individual’s circumstances, an asset protection technique can be used in different ways. There are techniques available to protect property and assets from family members, in-laws, spouses, or children, such as re-titling assets or working with a financial advisor to change the character of assets so they will provide a benefit with less risk. We can set up trusts with provisions to prevent most creditors from accessing assets. A corporate structure that limits liability or protects assets from future creditors may be an option when limiting future liabilities. Depending on the type of asset, we can also advise you whether it is exempt from creditors’ claims.
The process of planning for Medicaid generally starts before the need for it arises. The Medicare asset transfer lookback period is currently five years. Accordingly, the agency can scrutinize gifts of any amount during those five years, and a penalty period can be imposed based on how much was transferred.
Special Needs Trusts
If the funds are placed in a Special Needs Trust, disabled persons are still eligible for government benefits, such as Social Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid. Those with special needs may create their trust or pool their trust under the management of a nonprofit organization.
The trust created for the sole benefit of a disabled person under the age of 65 is usually referred to as a d4a trust, which is short for the code section that created it: 42 USC 1396p(d)(4)(A). A guardian, grandparent, parent, or court can create a D4A trust on behalf of the disabled person. Pay-back provisions must be included in this type of trust. Accordingly, any Medicaid benefits paid to the disabled person must be repaid to Medicaid upon the deceased’s death from any remaining funds in the d4a trust.
A Pooled Special Needs Trust is also known as a d4c trust; this is short for code section: 42 USC 1396p(d)(4)(C). A nonprofit organization creates and manages this type of trust. The disabled person’s assets are maintained in a sub-account for their benefit, but the total assets are pooled for investment and management. Funds in the sub-account belong exclusively to the disabled individual. A person’s parents, grandparents, legal guardians, courts, or the individual himself can establish this type of account. The pooled trust generally retains any funds not needed by the individual at the time of death, but Medicaid gets any funds not retained.
Estate Administration Or Probate Of The Estate
You can rely on our experience from start to finish. Our advisors can help you with different aspects of the process or can handle it for you if you have questions along the way. In estate planning, you have a variety of strategies you can utilize based on the circumstance. The process of dealing with potential creditor claims, court filings, or family disputes can be complicated. Planning is important.
Plan for future marriages with us, especially when there are concerns for prior children, lifetime provisions for a spouse, in-law concerns, Medicaid concerns, and social security concerns. You can contact us for a consultation so we can discuss how to accomplish your goals. Besides addressing divorce, prenuptial agreements also address what happens in the event of death.
If you cannot care for your pets in the future, or if you pass away before they do, we can help you plan for their care. Your assets can be preserved, and directives can be made for the care of your pets.
Planning for your loved ones’ unavoidable funeral needs can be helpful. We can set up a trust to handle the unknown if you are concerned that a loved one may need government benefits in the future.
Health Savings Account (HSA Account)
Health Savings Accounts are offered with high-deductible health insurance plans, and pretax dollars can be saved and used tax-free for qualified medical expenses. Each year, unused funds can accumulate and rollover. Upon reaching age 65, the money can be used for any purpose, not just qualified medical expenses, and is only taxed on the income. dYou should designate a beneficiary of the HSA that is consistent with your estate plan. Your spouse can use the money tax-free for qualified medical expenses even if they do not have a high-deductible health plan of their own. You will have to pay the penalty tax on the amount you withdraw from the HSA if your spouse is younger than 65 and uses the account for non-medical expenses. In the case of a beneficiary who is not your spouse, your HSA ends at death, and distributions to your beneficiary are taxable.
Get In Touch
Our knowledgeable attorneys at Montgomery and Hart, PLLC can discuss your estate planning with you. If you hire an experienced estate lawyer, you may be surprised at the difference they can make.
Contact one of our attorneys and they will explain your rights to you and advise you on the following steps to take.
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