Crosby & Westbrock LLC has extensive experience in guiding Minnesota and Wisconsin clients through creation of an estate plan, including the following specific areas:
Wills. A will directs who inherits your estate and who will serve as the personal representative of your estate. Your personal representative is in charge of settling your estate following your death. Settlement of the estate involves collecting assets you own, paying off valid debts, arranging for filing of your final tax returns, selling real estate and other assets to be sold, and ultimately distributing the inheritance to the beneficiaries in your will.
Powers of Attorney. With a power of attorney, you appoint a person, called an attorney-in-fact, to manage your legal and financial affairs in the event of your incapacity. Without a power of attorney, no one, not even a spouse, can legally act for an incapacitated person until the court appoints someone to act.
Health Care Directives. A health care directive provides instructions for your health care in the event you are unable to communicate your wishes.
Revocable Living Trusts. A revocable living trust allows for settlement of your estate following death without the need for a probate court proceeding. Contrary to myth, a will alone does not avoid probate court. Avoiding probate can protect your privacy, make administration quicker, and cut costs after death. You maintain full control of your revocable living trust during your life, including the full ability to amend its terms and to add, invest, or withdraw assets.
Estate Administration and Probate. Following a person’s death, there are many steps in settling an estate. A typical estate administration will include collecting assets, determining rights of creditors, properly transferring real estate, tax filings, notification and filings with certain government agencies, potential court filings, and proper distribution of assets to beneficiaries. We can help you identify exactly what needs to be done, accomplish the necessary tasks, and avoid the various pitfalls for the unwary.
Estate and Gift Tax Planning. If the total value of a person’s assets exceeds a certain threshold, the federal government and some states impose a tax on the estate upon death. In addition, gifts a person makes during his or her life may be subject to a gift tax. With proper planning, estate and gift taxes can be minimized or, in some cases, avoided.
Business Succession Planning. A business owner planning for retirement or preparing to move on to other opportunities must carefully consider how he or she exits the business. Crosby & Westbrock LLC counsels business owners on appropriate transition plans, including internal and external sales of business and gifting businesses to family members.
Charitable Planning. There are many different ways to make lifetime gifts or leave an inheritance to charity. Crosby & Westbrock LLC assists clients in identifying available options and selecting the most appropriate and tax efficient methods.
Irrevocable Trusts. An irrevocable trust differs from a revocable trust in that it cannot be changed after it is established. An irrevocable trust allows you to structure a lifetime gift or inheritance to accomplish certain objectives, including naming someone else to manage the gift for the beneficiary, ensuring the gifted assets remain in the family after the death of the original beneficiary, protecting the gift in case the beneficiary experiences financial problems or is otherwise sued, protecting the gift in case the beneficiary is divorced, and providing long term estate tax savings.
Guardianships and Conservatorships. An incapacitated person requires someone to manage his or her legal and financial affairs and to ensure the provision of proper health care. If the incapacitated person did not execute a power of attorney and health care directive prior to becoming incapacitated or if there is a dispute concerning a power of attorney or health care directive, the district court must appoint a guardian and conservator to assist in these matters. Crosby & Westbrock LLC assists family members and other interested persons in navigating the court process and carrying out the duties of guardians and conservators.
An estate plan expresses very personal decisions about your property and values. It is important to have a plan tailored to your circumstances. It is equally important that you understand how your plan works. After all, your individual goals and values will determine the best plan for you, and you cannot make a sound decision without knowing and understanding the options available to you.