Estate planning can be complex and involve high stakes – or it can be fairly simple. Your wishes and asset distribution needs can determine how complicated your estate should be. Laying out the process ahead of time makes tough decisions and tasks much easier for your family to bear – because you’ve made your wants clear and the path concise.
Our team of estate planning experts has the resources, experience, and dedication you need to plan your estate with one of our Phoenix-area attorneys. Contact Stewart Law Group for the experienced legal support you need. With 8 offices around Arizona; Phoenix, Scottsdale, Chandler, Peoria, and more, you can have peace of mind knowing that your attorney is an expert in their field and you’re following the letter of the law when setting up your legacy.
No two estates are the same. We tailor each plan to the family or individual it is meant to serve. Furthermore, we will offer you the education you need for maintaining and implementing your plan in the future. We will make potentially complex legal issues easily accessible and clear.
Your plan may be one of the most significant legal arrangements you will ever make. Put your trust in our Phoenix, Arizona-based law firm and get the experienced legal guidance you need.
There is no substitute for experienced estate planning lawyers who take their time to understand your unique situation. Your legacy should be carefully crafted with your long-term goals at the heart of every decision. Our team of lawyers knows the ins and outs around probate law. We are meticulous and dedicated. We have a laser-like focus on detail. We also know there is more to worry about than just a legal formality.
We take the time to understand our clients and we spend the time necessary to get a 360 -degree view of our clients’ goals. All of our clients have different backgrounds, career histories, financial situations, and family dynamics. We will answer your questions regarding estate planning:
No, these are not one-size-fits-all arrangements. Every estate plan is designed to address the specific desires of the client, so they’re all different. For example, your Living Will has one purpose while your Healthcare and Mental Health Power of Attorney has another – both are important and unique to you. Attempting to rely on generic forms from the internet or elsewhere may be problematic, leading to confusion or legal proceedings at a time when action and certainty are needed.
Each document inside your estate plan should perform a specific function and, to carry out that function, must meet the legal requirements for that instrument. At a minimum, our lawyers recommend the core documents that make up a basic estate plan, starting with a Last Will and Testament.
Yes. First, our lawyers review existing Wills and make recommendations for the requested revisions. A codicil can be used to update your Will or, if too many changes are needed, a new Will may be advisable to carry out your wishes. Everything depends upon your personal goals and how to lawfully carry them out. In fact, you should have your estate plan reviewed every two years as a matter of course.
Definitely have your Will reviewed by one of our lawyers if you experience a life-changing event – marriage, birth of your first child, divorce, inheritance, new job, serious illness, or spouse’s passing, among other things. Your estate plan needs to keep up with your life.
Yes, we can. Our lawyers are experienced in estates and trusts. After reviewing the existing revocable Living Trust document, we can then assist in updating your trust, regardless of where or when it was created. Your lawyer will discuss the amendments you want to incorporate, such as adding a beneficiary and make recommendations as to how those changes should be integrated and carried out.
So you know with certainty what to expect, your attorney will explain how the trust operates routinely and upon the occurrence of key events.
Maybe. The answer really depends upon your circumstances, what assets you intend to place in the trust, who the beneficiaries will be, and what you want the trust to accomplish during your lifetime and after your death. As a widely accepted estate planning document, the revocable Living Trust typically distributes income to the grantor and has built-in flexibility as it can be amended or even canceled (or revoked) later. After the grantor’s death, the trust property is transferred to the named beneficiaries.
These may include a spouse or former spouse, children of a current or previous marriage, parents, a separate trust, charitable organization, or other legal entity.
Real estate is transferred into a Living Trust using a deed of conveyance from the property owner to the legal name of your trust (for example, “The Smith Family Revocable Trust Agreement”). The executed deed is then recorded in the county where the real property is located.
Your lawyer will explain how to complete the transfer process, will draft the deed(s), and will provide written instructions to guide you through this important step. For instance, because the deed represents a change of title (legal ownership), the homeowner’s insurance policy will need updating, too.
Financial accounts are transferred out of your name and into the name of the trust you’ve created – this represents a change of ownership and must be done properly. Each financial account, cash account, brokerage account, securities fund, or mutual fund gets transferred into your trust. You will use the legal name of your trust for these transfers (for example, “The Smith Family Revocable Trust Agreement”). All such transfers must comply with state and federal laws, as well as comply with the issuers’ requirements.
How complicated this process will be depends upon the type of investments involved. For instance, whether they are publicly traded stocks and bonds, whether they are stock options or closely held, and so on. Most client portfolios are a blend. Your lawyer will advise you on the specifics of these transfers and may recommend bringing in a qualified financial planner, CPA, or other professional to assist.
Everyone’s family is unique! You will need to have clear goals, so your lawyer can tailor the estate plan to accomplish those objectives. Trusts, Wills, powers of attorney, and all the other estate planning documents are just as important with a blended family. For example, if your Will was executed before the divorce, then it should be updated to reflect your new spouse, step-children, or adopted children. Parents may have a different plan for the children of their first marriage than for those of their current marriage.
There may be a need to provide for spousal maintenance (alimony) or child support, possibly with a trust. Our experienced lawyers can address all of these changes to your estate plan. We will guide you through each of the legal issues raised by your circumstances, update your existing estate plan, or create a new plan for you and your blended family.
Don’t worry, we can help you with your Healthcare and Mental Health Power of Attorney along with the rest of your estate plan. With this power of attorney, you appoint an adult as your agent and surrogate to make future medical and mental health decisions while you are incapacitated or unable to communicate your wishes directly to medical providers.
If you are seriously injured and unconscious, for example, then your agent has the authority to discuss your medical care with physicians and make decisions while you cannot. The principal can revoke this power of attorney and name a different agent, as desired. Importantly, you should have a Living Will and HIPAA Release prepared, too.
This is actually a two-part question. A power of attorney is used by the principal to appoint an agent to act in his or her place for some general or limited purpose. This is an essential document in the basic estate plan. For example, a power of attorney can be used to sell real estate or to run the principal’s business while he or she is deployed overseas.
The term “durable” means the agency relationship shall continue even after the principal becomes incapacitated. Your Healthcare and Mental Health Power of Attorney is an example of a durable power of attorney. A general power of attorney for financial purposes may also be made durable by the principal. If the principal has a change of mind or wishes to appoint a different person as the agent, then the old durable power of attorney can be terminated (or revoked) and a new one created.
An experienced estates and trusts lawyer will explain how all of this works and why it’s so important to choose an agent wisely.
The above represent only a small sample of the many questions that you may have regarding your future planning. We can answer any questions you may have. For example, if you do not know what a trust is, a trust allows you to protect your wealth after you are deceased and avoid the costly and complicated probate process. At Stewart Law, we can help you transfer real estate or financial accounts into a trust. We can even assist you in setting up a trust for your pets to give you peace of mind that they will be cared for. Your situation may also include particularly intricate issues.
Regardless of your specific situation, planning can protect your economic legacy. Through careful planning, through receiving insightful guidance, and through insight focused on the future, you can have peace of mind knowing your estate plan is legally fortified.
Far too many Americans die “intestate” without a plan for how to handle and distribute their assets. If you don’t give those you leave behind a directive, your wishes may not be carried out. If you are without a will, the decisions of how your estate will be distributed are determined by statute in the degree of kinship. In other words, your closest relatives will receive the distributions, which may not be your intent. By planning ahead, you’re ensured distribution is done by your directive. We dispel some estate planning myths in this article.
There are many aspects of life that are uncontrollable and unavoidable. Estate planning is something you can do now to help your family in the future. Laying out your wishes and desires for them to understand and execute ensures your directives are clear, and their path to resolving your estate is planned. Contact our team at Stewart Law Group now for attentive and experienced guidance through the estate planning journey. We have the resources to address your concerns and adapt to your circumstances. The time to plan is now. With 8 offices in Arizona around the Phoenix metro area, we’re sure to have an office near you.
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