Probate Administration

What is Estate Planning? Too many people see or hear the phrase mentioned and immediately go down an ominous road. But it doesn’t have to be that way, nor should it. Estate Planning is creating a road map for your loved ones so they don’t have to wander about without directions during an already upsetting time. Estate Planning is creating ways to retain the wealth you’ve worked so hard to create along your own journey so that you can share the fruits of your labor with those who matter most. Estate Planning is building a safety net to catch you when you may need it most and when you least expect it.

The point is this: Estate Planning is a way to take some control of the uncontrollable. You have the power to direct and guide your loved ones when you are no longer able to do so – and at a time when they sure could use it the most. Here at Dow Law Group, we pride ourselves on providing quality, affordable services so that you can rest easy and assured that you have done what is best for you now and for your loved ones later. Our goal is to provide peace of mind when considering your future and a solid estate plan addressing what concerns you now and later is the best way to achieve that. Not sure where to even begin? That’s what we’re here for. Give us a call or shoot us an email and we can guide you through the process start to finish. The peace of mind you gain from completing an estate plan will undoubtedly outweigh any discomfort or hesitation you may have about the process to get there. Curious about what it takes to complete an estate plan? Take a look at the links below discussing some estate planning tools, how they work, and why you need them.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if I die without an Estate Plan?

If you pass away without an estate plan in place, this can be a time-consuming, frustrating and expensive matter for your loved ones in order to determine who receives your estate and assets. When your assets and affairs are not determined prior to your death, your estate will be handled and determined by the probate court. This could take anywhere from months to years depending on how complex your estate is. It is much more beneficial and cheaper to have your affairs settled ahead of time in order to provide a sense of security for your loved ones.

What are considered “My Estate and Assets?”

While the term “Estate” is often associated with wealth, everyone has an estate whether it is large or small. Your “Estate and assets” are an accumulation of everything you own. So what does this include? Real Estate, Businesses, Savings Accounts, Personal Possessions, Etc.

What are the benefits of an Estate Plan?

· Ensure your loved ones will avoid the extensive and costly court probate process

· Provide a sense of financial security and protect your beneficiaries

· Appoint temporary and permanent guardianship for minors

· Control who, when and will receive your assets

· Minimize what you pay in federal estate taxes and manage the cost basis of your assets

What is the federal estate tax?

Federal estate taxes are taxes controlled by the federal government on the transfer of an estate when an individual dies.

What is a trust and why is it important I have one?

A trust is an agreement that is utilized as tool during estate planning that will help you achieve a variety of your goals in terms of your assets which can begin prior to your death (living trust) or after your death. One major benefit of having a trust is it allows you to be very specific in terms of deciding whom, what, and when your estate is distributed and allows for flexibility on how you organize them.

With a proactive approach, our team is determined to resolve and address all of your estate matters and probate matters. During the process of creating a strategic estate plan, our experienced attorneys will discuss and help guide you by analyzing and evaluating your needs and assets. An estate plan acts a legal safety net to ensure your wealth and protect your loved ones. An estate plan is also a great way to minimize what you pay in estate taxes providing your loved ones with more assets. Our extensive knowledge and experience over the course of 30 years allows us to deal with numerous and varied situations including:

Simple and Complex Wills

In a will you specify a personal representative, executor, to carry out how your assets will be distributed to your loved ones after you die. A will can also be used to designate guardians to care for minor children. A will reduces the decision making a court will have during the probate process as you will have already decided on a representative to distribute your assets and a specific plan regarding who will receive your assets.

Powers of Attorney and Health Care Proxy

A power of attorney is a legal document that enables you to appoint an agent, a family member, friends, etc., legal authority to handle payment of your finances and handling personal affairs in the event you become incapacitated. A health care proxy is similar, but specifically grants legal authority to a trusted person to make medical and health decisions if you are unable to do so on your own.

Revocable Living Trust

A Revocable Trust is a legal document that allows you to transfer property into a trust or assign to a trustee while you continue to manage it during your lifetime. This trust allows you to plan for incapacity to distribute your estate and assets.

Irrevocable Trusts

In an Irrevocable Trust, the property is permanently transferred into the trust and cannot be altered. These types of trusts can be used to protect assets from creditors and avoid the taxes that are involved in other probate matters as well as aid in carrying out carefully crafted long term plans.

We also draft documents for the following:

  • Estate Tax Planning
  • Post-Mortem Estate Planning
  • Marital and Pre/Post Nuptial Agreements
  • Reverse Mortgages
  • 529 College Plans
If you have any questions about estate planning, wills or trusts, or probate matters don’t hesitate to contact our office; we would be happy to answer any questions regarding your existing estate plan, or future one.