Brown, Massey, Evans, McLeod & Haynsworth, LLC | Estate Planning
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Estate Planning

We have over 70 years of combined estate planning experience in our firm.  We assist our clients with the preparation of their estate plan, which we design to fit their specific needs and wishes.  We have assisted Clients in Will contests and disputes arising from poor estate planning, and have seen firsthand how these fights can affect families and cause lasting damage to relationships.  As estate planners we are cognizant of potential issues and craft the estate planning documents with a view toward providing clear directives and toward minimizing the potential for conflict.

We provide clients with tax advice and planning relating to estates and trusts, including income tax and estate and gift tax issues.

Some of the key documents and areas of estate planning that we assist clients with are:

  • Wills. A will designates what is to be done with assets such as investments, one’s home, business interests, and personal possessions. It identifies who will act for and manage one’s affairs, and it designate where and to whom those assets are to be distributed. A will can also name guardians for minor children.
  • Trusts. Whether it is a testamentary trust found in a will or a revocable living trust created during life, a trust can be a vital and effective part of any estate plan. Assets are placed in trust and the trustee manages those assets for the beneficiaries of the trust. Typically, trusts are designed to last for a lengthy or indeterminate period of time and are used to provide for the care of spouses, children and those with special needs. Trusts can also be employed to minimize taxes and to protect assets both during life and after death.  One of the most important and common reasons for trusts is that they allow a person to avoid probate if they are properly funded.
  • Business Succession Planning. Responsible business owners and investors understand that proper, advanced planning is necessary for the survival and growth of the enterprise. Similarly, business owners should consider, develop and implement a viable business succession plan to ensure the continued longevity of the business or to provide an exit strategy for the owner.
  • Valuation and Wealth Preservation. Some assets such as stocks and bonds may be easy to value, but others such as closely held and family business, unique or rare assets, and real property may be much harder to value. Asset values and the consequent financial and tax issues that follow are intertwined which is why experienced counsel is needed.
  • Asset Protection. Liability exposure and the threat to one’s hard earned money and property is of great concern to many. Asset protection strategies may be the solution that brings peace of mind to clients while providing a legacy for their loved ones.
  • Special Needs. It is important that you provide for your children and adult family members with special needs. Proper estate planning ensures that the people you trust most take care of these relatives and provide the funds needed for their lives. Special needs trusts can also protect against government encroachment on those assets set aside for persons with special needs.
  • Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income.  Our firm assist clients with planning for Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income, and other benefits that they may be entitled to.
  • IRA and other Retirement Benefits.  There can be large tax penalties and taxes due when improper distributions are made from IRAs and other retirement benefit plans, and naming a beneficiary in a way that maximizes tax benefits is a crucial element of proper retirement benefit planning.   If a Trust is being named as beneficiary, the Trust has to be properly drafted to hold those benefits.  
  • Powers of Attorney. One of the most important set of documents are powers of attorney because these documents benefit a person during his or her life, and if done correctly, allow the appointed power of attorney to manage his affairs when they have become incapacitated and are unable to manage their affairs on their own. Whether designated for healthcare or financial purposes, powers of attorney permit one to designate and authorize someone to make vital decisions when the maker is unable to make those decisions. In many instances, powers of attorney may be utilized to manage one’s affairs indefinitely and may avoid the expense and stress of a conservatorship proceeding.
  • Estate and Gift Tax Considerations. The IRS imposes gift taxes to discourage individuals from avoiding estate taxes by giving away their assets immediately before death. Nonetheless, generous annual and lifetime gifting thresholds as well as transfers that are not classified as gifts provide for effective planning strategies that can be employed to minimize one’s estate value and any resulting taxes.
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