CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — Protecting your family’s financial future after your death requires a secure trust, will and other important legal documents. Over the last 19 years, the attorneys at Brindley Sullivan have helped thousands of Southern Utah clients safeguard their assets and avoid the hassle of probate.
Contrary to what some people believe, wills and trusts aren’t just for the wealthy. So, what exactly is an estate plan? What assets are considered part of your estate? Why do you need a trust? These are questions that clients bring to Brindley Sullivan‘s experts on a daily basis.
“Everyone leaves behind an estate,” estate planning attorney Andrew S. McCullough said. “Even if you won’t have millions of dollars or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in it, there are still items that you need to plan for.”
When they pass away, an individual’s estate encompasses not only their money but their personal property, like vehicles, furniture, jewelry, artwork and family heirlooms. Someone needs to be appointed executor to take care of those belongings. An estate plan gives you the power to make these decisions and much more.
If you have children under age 18, the most important part of your estate plan will likely be appointing a legal guardian for them. Who will take physical custody? Who will manage any inheritance money and benefits to which they’re entitled as a result of your death? You can name the same person, or choose different individuals. Without proper documentation, however, the court will be making those decisions for you.
Estate planning is also essential to help your heirs avoid probate, the expensive and time-consuming process in which the legal system becomes involved with administering a person’s assets after their death. In Utah, an estate will usually end up in probate court if it’s valued at more than $100,000 or contains any real property.
“It’s not necessarily about the size of the estate,” McCullough said. “Sometimes, it’s what we own.”
The only definite way to avoid probate is by creating a trust and securing all your assets, including your house, car, bank account and retirement fund, within it. Estate planning is considerably less expensive than probate, and a trust also allows you to choose your beneficiaries.
Regardless of what you own and how much it’s worth, you’ll still need someone to handle your affairs after your death. Estate planning allows you to choose an executor to communicate with banks, hospitals, insurance companies, investment firms and more.
From covering your funeral costs to closing out your utility accounts, they’ll be responsible for handling payouts and bills as well as distributing your remaining assets as outlined in your trust.
Not all trusts are created equal, and neither are all estate planning firms. The process of moving your assets, including properties in other states, into your new trust is just as essential as obtaining the documents that create the estate plan itself. That’s why Brindley Sullivan ensures that every client’s trust is fully funded.
After the trust has been created and funded, Brindley Sullivan will meet with the chosen administrator of the estate to discuss all of the legal steps they’ll need to take in the event of the client’s death. There’s no additional cost for this service.
Brent Brindley and M. Sean Sullivan left regional law offices in 2004 to start their own practice, Brindley Sullivan. The firm focuses on wills, trusts, probate, guardianships, conservatorships, asset protection, business succession, fiduciary duties, rights, beneficiary rights and charitable giving.
The attorneys at Brindley Sullivan are here to provide trusted help when you need it most. Protect your hard-earned money, preserve family relationships and control probate challenges with legal documents designed to carry out your intentions after you pass away.
Schedule your free estate and asset planning consultation today at BrindleySullivan.com.
Written by ALEXA MORGAN for St. George News.
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