Our attorneys counsel clients to understand their goals for the distribution of assets during life and at death. We routinely advise clients on a broad range of tax and non-tax issues and develop, implement and defend innovative and comprehensive planning strategies to address clients’ planning objectives. Estate planning typically involves the following:
· Revocable trust
· Power of attorney for property
· Healthcare proxy
· Beneficiary designations for retirement accounts and life insurance policies
A revocable trust is typically the primary dispositive document, because it avoids probate at the client’s death and provides a good vehicle for the management of assets in the event of the client’s incapacity.
At the start of each new client relationship, our attorneys send an estate planning questionnaire (WILL PROVIDE DOCUMENT TO LINK TO NEW PAGE) and ask that it be completed and returned to us prior to the meeting. During the initial meeting, we discuss the client’s assets, determine who he/she wants to receive the assets after death and who he/she wants to be in charge of distributing the assets. We also work with the client to decide who will manage any property or make healthcare decisions in the event the client becomes unable to make decisions. If the client has minor or incapacitated children, it is important to select an appointed guardian should the need arise. At the conclusion of most initial meetings, we are able to provide the client an estimate of the fee to complete the estate planning process.
Many times, a client’s retirement account is the most significant asset. Our estate planning attorneys counsel clients on how to direct the distribution of retirement accounts in an income tax efficient manner. We also advise clients on how to provide beneficiaries an interest in retirement assets without subjecting the assets to a beneficiary’s creditors. This involves an analysis of not only Arkansas law, but also the laws of the states in which the beneficiaries reside.
Marital issues are frequently an important topic involved with estate planning. Our attorneys have years of experience counseling clients on how to provide for beneficiaries without having the assets subject to the claim of a beneficiary’s spouse at divorce or the beneficiary’s death. This involves an analysis of Arkansas law, in addition to the laws of the states in which the beneficiaries reside. We also have deep experience drafting premarital and post marital agreements that contain the rights of each party in the event marriage ends in divorce or death.
Sometimes, a client has a beneficiary who is receiving needs based governmental assistance. We are highly knowledgeable with drafting trusts to hold assets for a beneficiary without having the assets disqualify the beneficiary from the needs based programs. This planning also involves a close review of the beneficiary designations on retirement accounts and life insurance policies to make sure these assets are not distributed to a beneficiary by operation of law.