Sage Law Partners’ Estate Planning and Asset Protection practice advises clients in implementing fundamental estate planning documents, advanced estate planning techniques, and asset protection strategies. Our attorneys assist of all sizes with their estate, tax, and asset protection planning. While it might be true that everyone faces death and taxes, our estate planning attorneys make it their goal to minimize the impact of both death and taxes through well-thought out, personalized estate plans. The majority of Sage Law Partners’ estate planning clients reside in Utah, Nevada, and California; however, the firm occasionally services clients throughout the west.
Fundamental Estate Planning. A fundamental estate plan includes a will, revocable living trust, durable power of attorney, and health care document. New clients often say that they do not have an estate plan. Most people are surprised to learn that they actually do have a plan. In the absence of legal planning otherwise, their estate will be distributed after death according to Utah’s laws of intestacy. Of course, this may not be the plan they would have chosen. A properly drafted estate plan will replace the terms of the State’s estate plan with your own.
Revocable Living Trusts. A revocable living trust is frequently recommended as the centerpiece of many of our clients’ estate plans. Our clients’ trusts typically help them avoid probate, plan for taxes, and pass their wealth to their heirs when they want and how they want. Revocable living trusts are superb tools to facilitate a smooth administration of an estate.
Last Will and Testament. A last will and testament is just one part of a comprehensive estate plan. If an individual dies without a last will and testament, they are said to have died “intestate” and state laws will determine how and to whom the person’s assets will be distributed. A last will and testament has no legal authority until after death. As such, it will not help manage a person’s affairs when they are incapacitated, whether by illness or injury. A will does not help an estate avoid probate. In fact, a will is the legal document submitted to the probate court, so it is basically an “admission ticket” to probate. Generally, a will is the best legal document through which parents can name the guardians (or back-up parents) for minor children should those children become orphaned.
Power of Attorney. A power of attorney is a legal document giving another person (the attorney-in-fact) the legal right to do certain things (powers) for another. What those powers are depends on the terms of the document. A power of attorney may be very broad or very limited and specific. All powers of attorney terminate upon the death of the maker and may terminate when the maker (principal) becomes incapacitated (unable to make or communicate their own decisions). When the intent is to designate a back-up decision-maker in the event of incapacity, then a durable power of attorney should be used. Durable Powers of Attorney should be frequently updated as banks and other financial institutions may hesitate to honor a document that more than a few years old.
Utah Advance Health Care Directive Utah Health Care Power of Attorney / Living Will. Everyone should have an advanced health care directive. The Utah advance health care directive is both a health care power of attorney and living will.
Advanced Estate Planning. Sage Law Partners regularly counsels high-net worth clients on estate, gift and generation skipping transfer tax planning, including advice on lifetime wealth transfer through qualified personal residence trusts (QPRTs), grantor retained annuity trusts (GRATs), family limited partnerships (FLPs) and limited liability companies (FLLCs), defective grantor trusts (IDGTs), planned giving (through family foundations), charitable remainder trusts, and other sophisticated tax planning techniques. We evaluate the proper uses of insurance in estate planning, review clients’ assets to structure ownership so as to minimize estate and gift taxes, and design and implement succession plans for closely held businesses. As we assist with the succession of closely-held businesses, we frequently implement buy-sell agreements using sophisticated funding strategies to help the family business or farm survive through the generations.
Asset Protection. Sage Law Partners’ attorneys are conscientious of the fact that these are perilous times. Lawsuits, bankruptcies, divorces, business risks, contingent fee plaintiff’s attorneys, and illnesses can devastate estates. We’ve seen such devastation first hand. A good defense can be the best path toward overcoming such perils. We assist clients with asset protection planning using entities, trusts (both foreign asset protection trusts and domestic asset protection trusts), insurance, and other strategies. Although there are never guaranties in the world of asset protection, we have seen our asset protection strategies tested with favorable results in the recent economic downturn.