Preparing for the future of your loved ones and the transfer of your assets are serious tasks, but they need not be causes for anxiety. An understanding advocate can help you take the right steps in planning your estate and ensuring the care of elders close to you. At the Law Office of Penniann J. Schumann PLLC, I take pride in having helped countless families in the Salt Lake City area create wealth transfer strategies suited to their needs.
The most common method of estate planning is making a will, which carries out your wishes for distribution and management of your assets. In Utah, a will can be as simple as a handwritten, signed note, but the probate court is more likely to accept a formal will, with witnesses and a notarized affidavit. You don’t want to risk challenges to your will, and in Utah even a “no contest” clause won’t hold up if the probate court thinks there is an issue. I can help you create a will so that the process of probate goes smoothly and easily.
As time goes by, your will should be updated to include changes in your estate or family. Sometimes a new will is needed, but I can usually accomplish an update by preparing an amendment. I give an understanding and compassionate ear, along with more than 20 years of experience helping families make and change wills without stress to keep their future and property secure.
An alternative to a will is a living trust. This allows you put assets — money as well as property — in a trust while you are still alive, with instructions to transfer the property to designated beneficiaries when you pass away. The main advantage to a living trust is that you avoid the probate process, which can take four to five months before your property is transferred. Property in a living trust also stays private, without a public hearing determining its owner.
Living trusts can be revocable or irrevocable, and deciding which type is preferable requires a careful analysis. An irrevocable trust may save money by protecting some assets from creditors or federal estate tax. A revocable trust allows you to add or remove property, or even eliminate the trust altogether. I will weigh the options for you. I can also help you prepare a “pour-over” will, specifying that any property not listed in a revocable trust goes into the trust after probate.
When loved ones have become unable to care for themselves, a guardian — usually a trusted family member — can be appointed to look after their affairs. A guardianship is also useful to prepare for the contingency that you may become temporarily or permanently incapacitated. The guardian aids with:
A more limited guardianship is available, and a conservator can also be appointed separately to look after the estate. For large or complex estates, a separate conservator may be a good idea. I will analyze your situation attentively and help you decide whether a guardianship is advisable, and how to create it.
To relieve your worries about your family’s future, talk to someone with the knowledge and experience to help you make the right decisions. At the Law Firm of Penniann J. Schumann, PLLC, I have 23 years of experience helping people craft plans to fit their particular needs. Call me at 801-895-4021 or contact me online to schedule a consultation.