CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — Protecting a family’s financial future after the passing of a loved one requires a secure trust, will and other legal documents. Over the last 16 years, the attorneys at Brindley Sullivan have helped more than 2,500 Southern Utahns with safeguarding their assets in the event of death or incapacity.
Brent Brindley and M. Sean Sullivan left regional law firms in 2004 to start their own practice, Brindley Sullivan. Among other services, the firm assists clients with trusts, wills, estate planning and probate.
“Our goal is to give the family the documentation they need to manage a loved one’s financial world without needing to go to court,” Sullivan said.
Not all trusts are created equal, however. Sullivan cautions that a single document out of place can land a family in probate court, a lengthy, expensive and inconvenient judicial process.
“Whenever a trust is signed, that’s about half the work,” he said. “The other part of the job is to make sure your assets are integrated.”
Assets can include bank accounts, deeds, titles, life insurance policies, brokerage accounts and individual retirement accounts. Most attorneys, Sullivan said, will have clients sign a trust and then place the responsibility of updating assets in their hands. The client leaves without fully understanding what needs to be done, becomes frustrated by forms and tax questions and the project goes unfinished.
Sullivan compares a trust without assets to a car without an engine – it may look fine from the outside, but ultimately it’s useless.
At Brindley Sullivan, the initial consultation is always free. Clients are guaranteed at least two more face-to-face meetings to thoroughly review the drafted paperwork and make any changes before signing. They leave with four fundamental documents: a trust, will, financial power of attorney and health care power of attorney.
Most clients come to Brindley Sullivan to plan for their family’s future when they pass away, Sullivan said, but few are thinking about what will happen if they become incapacitated.
Having a secure will and trust isn’t enough in the event of incapacity. Power of attorney documents are needed to transfer authority over a person’s financial, medical and legal matters to someone who can make decisions on their behalf. Without them, the next of kin must appear before a judge to have that person declared legally incompetent.
Many people assume that spouses automatically have the right to sign for one another in the event of incapacity, Sullivan said, but this is not the case without a power of attorney.
“Going to court for incapacity is much more expensive than going to court for death,” he added. “By signing a couple of really straightforward documents, they can avoid a world of legal problems.”
As perhaps the only estate planning firm south of Salt Lake City providing this level of service, Sullivan said “the difference between me and the next guy is that I see it all the way through, not just halfway. When they walk out the door, it’s done, and they don’t need to think about it again.”
Sullivan has exclusively practiced estate planning and probate law throughout his 22-year career. The time he spends with clients fosters relationships that, in many cases, have continued with their children after their passing.
Someone looking for the cheapest estate planning attorney won’t find the lowest bid at Brindley Sullivan, he said, but they will find the best value for their money. Creating a secure, fully realized trust today will pay dividends further down the road by sparing loved ones from added stress and anguish.
“Most people think that getting a trust is like buying a car from this dealer or that dealer; ‘it’s the same car,’” he said, “and it’s just not.”
Written by ALEXA MORGAN for St. George News.
• S P O N S O R E D C O N T E N T •
- Brindley Sullivan | Address: 50 E. 100 South Suite 302, St. George | Telephone: 435-673-9220 | Website.
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