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Estate Planing and Probate

Whether you realize it or not, you HAVE an estate. One’s estate refers to a person’s assets.  Those assets can be as simple as a home, cars and a checking account, or can be much more complex.  Regardless of how modest or grandiose an estate is, estate planning is one of the most important legal matters a person can undertake in their lifetime. Failing to do will result in unintended consequences and lots of stress for your family and heirs.  Getting an estate plan now will ensure that your assets are distributed as desired, and that you appoint responsible people to oversee that process.

Protecting Your Loved Ones

After practicing law for several decades, Greg Richards takes each discussion of a person’s legal matters as seriously as he would those of a close friend. While legal matters involving estates may be complicated, the conversations about them don’t have to be. Greg and his team work with their clients to answer all of their questions, develop a logical and straightforward estate plan and provide peace of mind to the client.  No one wants to leave their loved ones with a mess.

Successful estate planning goes beyond figures and paperwork. Thoughtful estate planning requires attention to a client’s needs and honors their desires. It also involves educating clients on how their plan will work.  Greg reaches a comfortable rapport with clients because he understands that estate planning can involve complex personal and family issues, and the process can be daunting sometimes.  By establishing a relationship first, clients are able to candidly outline their wishes and concerns. Greg listens to his clients, seeks to understand their issues and works to address their goals in the most straightforward way possible.  It is not uncommon to hear Greg’s estate planning clients say, “This was a lot easier than I thought it would be.”

Estate planning is especially important for small business owners. Whether it is a family or a closely held business, Greg can minimize concerns and conflict through drafting agreements that address succession in management and/or ownership, equitable treatment of children not involved in the business and directions for future growth and/or disposition of the business.

Every person can benefit from estate planning, regardless of his or her wealth, age, or professional status. While estate planning most notably manages a person’s assets, it can also address tax-saving initiatives and other critical concerns you and/or loved ones have.

Benefits of Estate Planning

The process of estate planning allows individuals to thoroughly assess their assets, identify beneficiaries, coordinate with non-probate tools like beneficiary designations, formulate advance directives/living wills, appoint agents to make medical and financial decisions for them if they become incapacitated, appoint guardians for children as well as provide financial security for minors in the event of loss of their parents. Through an estate plan, a course of action is defined that frees clients and their loved ones of the stress of the unknown so that they can focus on the life they have built and fully enjoy their time together.

One lesser known, but highly significant, benefit of estate planning is protection from taxation, litigators, creditors, and even ex-spouses in cases of divorce. Sound estate planning can protect assets from unnecessary poaching, in turn maximizing the benefits your loved ones will receive.

Many people hear “estate planning” and assume it’s something that can be put off for years, if not decades; however, that is simply untrue. Estate planning benefits people of all ages, wealth statuses, and professions. Unforeseen circumstances can change or end a person’s life in seconds, and without a proper detailed plan in place, courts will dictate the course of resolution regarding a decedent’s personal assets, business assets and more.

Life can change in an instant.  Waiting to act is a chance simply not worth risking.

Probate

When a loved one dies, there is a lot to take care of.  Beyond funeral arrangements and the immediate needs that attend a person’s death, there is often a need to settle their estate.  When a person dies leaving a valid will, the probate process allows for the authentication of that will and a process for paying final debts and distributing the estate according to the decedent’s wishes.  Greg and his team provide not only the technical expertise to help clients navigate through this process, but do so with a great deal of compassion.  We know that losing a loved one is a significant loss and brings with it many questions and challenges.  We have developed a reputation for going above and beyond to help make this process as easy as possible on our clients.

For those clients whose loved ones have passed without a will, we employ creative strategies to try and minimize the stress and cost typically associated with an intestate (no will) estate.

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We appreciate the privilege of serving our clients as trusted advisors and advocates. We enjoy and strive for a practice that promotes a family culture. With those principals in mind, our mission is to provide high quality legal services with integrity, professionalism, and respect for our clients.

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