Trusts & Estates

What Is Estate Planning and Why Do You Need It

Estate Planning is the process whereby a person develops a plan and prepares documents to conserve, protect, and distribute estate assets before and after death for the benefit of loved ones and charities, taking into consideration the effect of state and federal tax and administrative laws and regulations. It can also involve planning for the use of your assets for your care if you become unable to manage your affairs during your lifetime.

If you own a home, have some savings, or own any goods such as a car or furniture, then you have an estate. Planning for the future will affect the financial security of those you love. If you don’t plan for what happens to your estate upon your death, the government will make those decisions for you.

You should have an estate plan if:

  • you care about who inherits your property
  • you care about your health care treatment
  • you are the parent of minor or disabled children, and/or
  • you want to avoid the public proceedings of a possible guardianship and/or probate.

How We Can Help You: Family Wealth Preservation Strategies:

At the Law Offices of Alfredo Garcia-Menocal, P.A., we know that your estate is a reflection of years of hard work, careful planning and good decisions. That’s why we dedicate considerable time to design plans that are tailored to meet your unique needs and help ensure a secure future for those closest to you. We provide practical solutions to estate planning and asset protection concerns to accomplish our clients’ wishes, including maintaining management and control of their estate, while at the same time avoiding probate, protecting family members, ensuring their financial privacy, obtaining peace of mind and avoiding unnecessary taxes. We understand that every estate, regardless of size, is important.

Our firm handles all aspects of estate planning, including creating wills and trusts, powers of attorney, living wills, warranty deeds and pre and post-nuptial agreements; business planning; asset protection planning and wealth preservation planning; planning for incapacity and disability; and minimizing or eliminating federal and state tax liability. A Revocable Living Trust is usually recommended as the cornerstone of our clients’ estate plan. A fully funded Revocable Living Trust offers complete control to clients during their lifetime, provides for them and their loved ones in the event of their incapacity and on death allows them to pass their assets to their loved ones without the costs, delays and publicity associated with probate.

We can teach you how to direct your assets using a variety of methods including:

  • Making use of the federal and state gift, estate, and generation-skipping tax exclusion to transfer assets
  • Trust Agreements (including A-B, Crummey, Gift, QPRTs, QDOTs, QTIPs, GRATs, Life Insurance, Spendthrift trusts and others)
  • Family Limited Partnerships
  • Charitable Remainder Trusts
  • Living trusts and life estates
  • Pre and Post-Nuptial Agreements
  • Business Succession and Liquidity Planning

Creating Your Estate Plan

To achieve a client’s estate planning objectives, we have an Initial Conference to make recommendations based on a comprehensive review of an individual’s assets and general situation, and the personal goals of our clients. We will analyze your estate, including your business organization and financing structures and learn about you and your family. Next, we will help you define your estate planning objectives and provide you with the most effective means of achieving those objectives, including prudent tax planning and asset protection planning. For more complex estates, we will often schedule a second meeting to develop your customized estate plan, which may involve the use of Family Limited Partnerships and Charitable/Private Foundations.

Several weeks following the Initial Conference, you will receive drafts of your estate plan documents. At this time, we will have a telephone conference to review your documents in detail, explaining what each document does for you and how your documents interact with each other. You will then make an appointment to return to our office to have your “Signing Ceremony.” Once signed, we will provide you with your original estate planning documents and an “Estate Planning Portfolio”. This portfolio not only contains a copy of all of your estate plan documents which we prepared for you, but also vital, important information for you and your family’s use.

We will then assist you with a very important aspect of your estate planning, the “Funding Phase”, to ensure your estate plan works for you. The Funding Phase is the process of transferring assets to your Revocable Living Trust. Your most valuable assets, as determined by you in your estate plan, must be titled with the Trust’s name for the trust to afford any benefit to your family.

Simple Estate Planning

  • Preparation of simple Wills, Trusts and related documents
  • Living Wills and Healthcare Surrogates
  • Durable Powers of Attorney
  • Designation of Pre-Need Guardian
  • Deeds
  • Settlement of decedents’ estates
  • Probate and Estate Administration

Complex Estate Planning

  • Pre-mortem Estate Planning
  • Preparation and review of Wills, Revocable Living Trusts and related documents
  • Family Limited Partnerships
  • Gift Planning, including Irrevocable Insurance and other Trusts
  • Business Succession Planning
  • Charitable Planned Giving and Trusts
  • Estate Tax Planning
  • Postmortem Estate Planning
  • Preparation and review of federal and state estate tax returns
  • Review of postmortem elections
  • Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax Planning
  • Probate and Trust Administration

Business Succession Planning

In addition to estate planning services, we offer business owners the following specific services:

  • Planning for management succession and asset conservation through multiple generations at a minimum tax cost
  • Assisting business owners in allocating benefits among their children regardless of their involvement in the business
  • Counseling on the short- and long-term estate implications of selling a business or restructuring it
  • Counseling on recapitalizations, gift programs and other techniques for shifting value during an owner’s lifetime or separating control from value
  • Developing and implementing exit strategies from the business for inactive family members
  • Planning for liquidity in the event of an owner’s death
  • Preparing buy/sell, restrictive stock and employment agreements
  • Structuring life insurance and benefit programs to minimize tax costs

The possibilities of documents used in your estate plan are endless, but you can be sure that every action taken is in your best interest. Numerous state and federal laws can also complicate the estate planning process. Yet, despite the complexities, we will take the time to help you understand how the various laws affect you and exactly how each document affects your estate.

Our law firm provides for continuing legal education to assure that our clients are offered the most updated legal advice. More importantly, when your plan is completed, you can be confident that the people or charitable organizations you choose will actually benefit from your estate.