Can Estate Planning Help Clients Avoid or Minimize Federal Estate Taxes?

Yes. U.S. tax regulations present a complex web of rules, and it is important to engage an experienced estate-planning attorney to assist in planning your estate to reduce, and ideally minimize, federal estate tax.

Strategic tax planning can help to minimize estate taxes for those with taxable estates. At Scott Williams Law, we help clients understand the potential tax ramifications that may affect their estate, and the actions that can be taken to minimize any such taxes.

Our comprehensive tax-planning services encompass:

  • formulation of credit shelter trusts and irrevocable trusts;
  • guidance on maximizing annual gift tax exemptions; and
  • counsel with respect to philanthropic donations.

Safeguarding Your Legacy and Family During Your Lifetime

last will and testament, one or more trusts, healthcare powers of attorney, advance directives, powers of attorney over property, and payable-on-death (POD) or transfer-on-death (TOD) account and asset designation.

  • Powers of Attorney. These are indispensable tools, especially in situations in which one might be unable to make informed decisions due to illness or injury. Without this document, legal routes such as seeking court-appointed guardianship or conservatorship might become necessary. These processes can be costly and can generally be avoided with a Power of Attorney.

With a Power of Attorney, the designated “Attorney-In-Fact” can, during incapacitating events, make crucial decisions—be they financial, lifestyle-related, or otherwise specified—based on the permissions granted within the document.

  • Living Will/Advance Medical Directives. Advance Directives, including Living Wills, set forth individual’s healthcare preferences if they are ever unable to voice (or otherwise communicate) them. Such a document might specify, for instance, whether to provide active life-saving procedures or only palliative care. These directives are invaluable, eliminating the emotional strain on family members that would come from making heart-wrenching decisions. We can ensure that your wishes for these matters are clearly documented.

Protecting Your Loved Ones After Your Death

  • Last Will and Testament. This document outlines how an individual’s assets that are titled in their individual name are to be distributed at their death. Assets that have a beneficiary designation or are held in joint name with rights of survivorship are not governed by your will. It is important to work with experienced estate-planning lawyers to evaluate how to best design your estate plan.
  • Trusts. A revocable living trust is a legal document that can be an important part of an estate plan. A trust agreement’s terms define the management and distribution of the trust’s assets at death. These are especially favored to provide for underage children who cannot yet manage assets, and for disabled beneficiaries as well. Trusts can also streamline asset transfers by bypassing the probate process, which is the court-administered process of distributing assets.
  • Special Needs Trusts. This is an essential tool for family members who wish to provide for their loved one without interfering with any benefits they may be qualified for and receiving. Carefully crafting these trusts is paramount to ensure that they do not jeopardize eligibility for essential government benefits like Medicaid or Social Security Disability.