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Estate Planning | Wills & Trusts

Our estate planning attorneys are led by Rufus Wolff and Vince Ward. If we can assist you with any estate planning matters, please call us today for a consultation at 501-954-8000, or submit an inquiry via our contact form available here.

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Why Everyone Needs an Estate Plan

Estate planning is advisable for most people regardless of the complexity of your family or the size of your estate. Among many other reasons, estate planning documents are needed to:

  • Appoint trustworthy parties to manage and distribute your estate;
  • Ensure that the intended parties receive your assets;
  • Make certain that the management and distribution of your estate is carried out in a timely and cost-efficient manner;
  • Substantially reduce the chance of inter-family disputes; and
  • Nominate dependable parties to make health care and financial decisions for you in the event you become mentally incapacitated during life.

Our estate planning attorneys regularly counsel high net-worth individuals that desire estate plans optimized for federal estate tax savings. Our clients include those whose needs involve multi-generational estate planning designed for the accumulation and preservation of family wealth for current and future heirs, as well as those individuals whose estate planning needs are less complex.

Estate Planning Attorney

An Experienced Estate Planning Law Firm

Our estate planning attorneys regularly assist clients throughout Arkansas with all of their estate planning needs. As your family evolves over time, your estate planning needs and goals may change. Additionally, the laws and regulations relating to estate and gift taxes are complex and are frequently modified.

We strive to work with our clients throughout their lives as legal environments and family circumstances change to ensure your estate planning goals are fully accomplished. For our high net-worth clients, we design creative estate tax focused plans that preserve and pass the maximum amount of wealth to future generations, while balancing practical considerations and the administrative burden frequently involved with such plans. We commonly provide clients with estate plans that utilize the following estate planning devices:

  • Last will and testament;
  • Revocable trusts;
  • Medical care directives and health care powers of attorney;
  • Durable powers of attorney;
  • Charitable trusts;
  • Life insurance trusts;
  • Grantor retained annuity trusts;
  • Lifetime gifts and endowments;
  • Family limited partnerships;
  • Business succession plans; and
  • Disability and special needs trusts.

Why Have a Last Will and Testament?

A last will and testament is an important legal document that specifies how your estate will be distributed after your death. It’s important to determine how to divide your assets to minimize family conflict in a legally binding document. But it’s also important to avoid having state laws decide how your personal property, real estate, and other assets will be distributed.

In addition to dividing your assets, there are a number of important factors your estate will benefit from by completing a will.

Appoint an Executor

You will appoint a personal representative or sometimes referred to as an executor of the estate. An executor is someone you trust to carry out the instructions of your will and administer your estate. 

Name Beneficiaries

In your will, you will typically distribute your hard-earned assets among named beneficiaries. Beneficiaries are people you allow to receive those assets that normally include your spouse, children, or other important people.

If you have children, then you can appoint a guardian for your minor children in your will. A legal guardian is a person who has the legal authority to care for and make certain decisions for another person, or in this case your children.

Plan for Probate

Probate is a court proceeding during which the validity of your will is established or “proved” and your estate is administered. Writing a will is an important step towards planning for probate. You establish all the guidelines for how your last will and testament will be carried out during probate court and how your executor handles your debts using your assets.

Changing Circumstances

In the event that you have new children or grandchildren or the passing of a beneficiary, then you may want to make changes to your will. Those changes should be made as soon as they happen so probate courts don’t make decisions related to those events for you. All of this can be managed by amending your last will and testament. 

Why Have a Trust?

Revocable Trust vs Irrevocable Trust: A Guide to the Basics

Much like a last will, revocable and irrevocable trusts establish the beneficiaries of your assets after you die. However, they typically do not involve a court proceeding. The main differences between these two types of trusts involve how and whether changes can be made to the trust documents. 

A revocable trust is a trust in which almost any changes can be made to the trust by the originator of the trust, known as the grantor or settlor. The trust assets  are typically held by the trustee for the benefit of the grantor until the time of their death. Revocable trust benefits include the ease of administration and flexibility it provides to the grantor.

An irrevocable trust is a trust which restricts any changes from being made to the trust with a few limited exceptions. Irrevocable trusts are typically used for estate tax planning and asset protection strategies, as the irrevocable nature of the trust further removes the trust’s assets from the grantor’s ability to control. If created properly, this unique arrangement can shelter the trust’s assets from potential legal liabilities and creditors. However, administration of an irrevocable trust is typically more burdensome.  

These are just some of the basic benefits that trusts can provide. Arranging and deciding on a trust is a complicated enough process that you will need an estate planning attorney. There are many other benefits that a will and trust attorney can help you achieve like avoiding probate. 

Here are some benefits both types of trust can provide:

  • Appoint a trustee, or fiduciary, and a successor trustee to make decisions about the trust assets if you are no longer able.
  • Keep assets from being managed or spent unwisely as in the case of a minor.
  • Avoid a public and time-consuming probate process in probate court.
  • Protect trust property from a beneficiary’s creditors.
  • Manage special case assets that can be more difficult to divide among beneficiaries such as family real estate, pets, or valuable family heirlooms.
  • Provide continued management of income to a surviving spouse.
  • Provide inheritance protection for descendants if a surviving spouse remarries.
  • Reduce estate taxes and transfer taxes.

Why Have an Advance Health Care Directive?

Estate planning is not only about making decisions for after the time of your death. Many events can occur while you are alive that you will want to plan for, such as health emergencies, end-of-life treatment, or major medical procedures. It is possible that during these events you will be unable to communicate your wishes.

There are two types of advance health care directives that can help you and your loved ones have some peace of mind during major health care decisions. You will want to seek the expertise of a will and trust lawyer experienced in advance health care directives. Creating these documents will benefit you by:

  • Giving clear guidance to doctors and your health care agent.
  • Providing clarity and comfort that you wish were carried out to your loved ones.
  • Preventing disagreements with your family members.
  • Limiting any emotional burdens on your family members and loved ones.
  • Avoiding the need for a guardianship proceeding. 

Living Will

A last will makes arrangements for how your assets will be distributed after your death. A living will is a legal document that dictates health care decisions that will be made on your behalf while you are still alive. In your living will, you can make decisions about life-sustaining treatment or life support, resuscitation, donating organs and tissue, or administration of pain medication in your final moments.

Making these decisions ahead of time will ease your family’s burden during a difficult time. And it will give guidance to your doctors so that your wishes for medical care can be carried out.

Medical Power of Attorney

There are many health care decisions that you will be able to anticipate in the event that you are unable to communicate. But you may want to have a plan in place for unexpected situations.

A medical power of attorney, or health care power of attorney, is a legal document that grants legal authority to an individual, or health care agent, to make medical care decisions if you are unable. You will want to give careful consideration to who you choose to be your health care agent. You will need to have serious discussions with that person about your wishes during end-of-life care.

Power of Attorney and Durable Power of Attorney

There are times in your life that you may want to have another individual, or agent, to make decisions and perform actions on your behalf. This decision may arise from business interests or from declining age and health. There are many common financial situations you may want to grant someone else authority to do on your behalf, including:

  • Filing tax returns;
  • Signing checks and paying your bills or your businesses bills;
  • Making gifts or donations;
  • Managing real estate, including buying and selling;
  • Performing business transactions;
  • Dealing with legal and insurance claims; and
  • Having the ability to borrow money in your name.

You may want to grant someone the ability to perform all these actions. This is sometimes called a general power of attorney. However, you may only wish to grant someone a limited amount of authority. A limited power of attorney is a document that grants an agent the ability to make specific decisions on certain matters. 

It is important to consult the legal advice of an estate planning lawyer or elder law attorney to write and execute these documents correctly.

Power of Attorney

A power of attorney is a legal document that legally authorizes another individual, or agent, to make decisions and perform actions on your behalf. This authority will end once you die or become incapacitated.

Durable Power of Attorney

Durable power of attorney is similar, but it includes language that remains in effect if you become incapacitated or unable to make decisions on your own. 

Our estate planning attorneys are led by Rufus Wolff and Vince Ward. If we can assist you with any estate planning matters, please call us today for a consultation at 501-954-8000, or submit an inquiry via our contact form available here.

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