Estate planning is the most effective way to control your legacy and preserve your assets and values according to your wishes. We help you design, implement and understand your estate plan. We also work with personal representatives (executors) and trustees in all aspects of estate and trust administration, and we are frequent advisors to professional fiduciaries, such as bank trust departments and trust companies.
You may need a trust to protect assets for your children, avoid probate, save taxes, or plan for a family member who has special needs.
You may want to ease your family’s burden and provide security for your own needs in the event you are disabled and require assistance with health care and financial decisions.
You may hope to protect your children’s inherited assets from creditors, including in the event of a divorce.
The future of your assets, and perhaps your own and your family’s well-being, lies in the careful planning of your estate. Specific estate planning goals and objectives, regardless of age or familial status, should be addressed by everyone.
Why Cochran Allan?
Our estate planning services range from simple to complex. In all cases, we seek to preserve and protect your assets in a tax-sensitive manner, respecting your unique needs and objectives.
We represent individuals and families of all ages in all financial brackets. We regularly work with clients whose wealth is anchored in inherited trusts, closely held businesses, real estate holdings or investment portfolios, as well as corporate executives and service professionals. We help our clients plan for the future of treasured art collections as well as farms and vacation homes.
Maximizing tax savings is a primary goal for many of our clients. We also regularly plan for incapacity and the care and financial security of minor children. Many of our clients have valuable primary residences, life insurance, art holdings and retirement savings, but often are uncertain of what type of estate planning they need.
Regardless of net worth, most of our clients benefit from a comprehensive estate plan that includes the following key documents:
A Revocable Trust (also known as a living trust)
Powers of Attorney for Financial and Legal Matters
An Advance Directive (or Health Care Power of Attorney)
A Living Will
Beneficiary designation guidance for life insurance policies and retirement plan assets
For clients with significant wealth and estate tax exposure, or unique planning concerns, we regularly prepare estate plans that include the following more technical elements or additional documents:
- Credit Shelter or Disclaimer Trust
- Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust (ILIT)
- Intentionally Defective Grantor Trust (IDGT)
- Generation Skipping Tax Exempt Trust (GST Trust)
- Special Needs Trust (SNT)
- Grantor Retained Annuity Trust (GRAT)
- Qualified Personal Residence Trust (QPRT)
- Charitable Lead Trust (CLT)
- Charitable Remainder Trust (CRT)
- Intra-family Sales and Loans, including Mortgages
- Private Foundations
We also address business succession issues for real estate holdings, closely held businesses and other corporate entities. We organize and draft agreements for limited partnerships and limited liability companies, and prepare real estate deeds.
Lastly, asset protection is a major concern for many of our clients, particularly physicians, business owners and others who want to protect assets for their heirs. We understand the importance of protecting our clients’ wealth and help our clients choose the best strategy to protect assets, not only from taxes, but also from creditors, litigation, divorce and other unforeseen circumstances. Through both very simple and sophisticated techniques, we can ease our clients’ concerns about preserving and maintaining their estates.
Unfortunately, many people fail to appreciate the benefits of having a well-designed and well-implemented estate plan. Unless you provide otherwise through your estate plan, state law will dictate how your money, property and other assets will pass upon your death. State law (or possibly a court) also will dictate who will handle your personal financial, legal and medical matters if you are disabled.
Additionally, absent proper planning, minor children will receive inheritances when they reach the age of majority, which is often younger than is comfortable for parents, and may have a court-appointed guardian or conservator handle their money until that time. If a guardian is required, the court will select one without the benefit of knowing your preferences, intentions and personal relationships.
For yourself, if you become disabled and need assistance, but do not have Powers of Attorney and/or a Revocable Trust, your family may be forced to hire a lawyer and petition a court to appoint a guardian or conservator to manage your affairs.
Taxes also pose a major issue. Without proper planning, many of your last wishes may go unfulfilled and your family may lose control over your estate and pay significantly more in taxes. We remind you that as federal and state estate tax laws have changed significantly over the past few years, your documents may need to be updated to provide optimally for your loved ones.