ESTATE PLANNING & PROBATE
We handle all issues relating to Estate Planning, including Wills, Trusts, POA and Living Wills. We also handle Guardianships and Adoptions, and all other issues in the Probate Court.
According to recent estimates, over 50% of all persons who have died in the past 10 years have died without any form of estate planning. Estate planning is a way for you to set out the manner in which you want your property to be distributed after your death. We suggest that all persons have three documents – at a minimum – for Estate Planning. First, a Last Will and Testament allows you to have control over what happens to your assets when you die; this avoids the State deciding how they are distributed. Second, a Living Will and Medical Power of Attorney allow you to make your intentions known for your long-term care should you enter a vegetative or comatose state, or if you lose your mental ability to make medical decisions. Third, we recommend a Power of Attorney, which allows the person selected to be able to carry on your financial duties should you become unable to do so. Along with these, we can provide counsel for the following:
- Wills, Living Will, Powers of Attorney
- Trusts (Revocable, Irrevocable, Testamentary, Special Needs)
- Joint Ownership / Rights of Survivorship
- Automatic Transfers
We also handle all other issues in the Probate Court, including all of the following:
- Adoptions (Including stepparent adoptions, Private 3rd Party Adoptions, DHR Adoptions,
and Interstate Adoptions)
- Civil Commitments
- Name Changes
In the State of Alabama, dying without some sort of Estate Planning device leaves the decision on how your assets are divided up to the State and Laws of Alabama. Often times this results in not only unfair, but also unwanted results. The easiest way to have control over what happens to your property after your pass away is to have a Last Will and Testament. A Will is very easy and inexpensive for a person to get, yet most people ignore the importance of this document.
Another group of documents that can guarantee that your desires for the distribution of your property upon your death will be carried out are Trusts. While Trusts are a little more expensive, if they are done properly it allows your heirs to bypass the process of probating a will and in some instances will save them substantial amounts of money in estate taxes. If you want to reap the benefits of the Trust, you will have to transfer the majority of your possessions out of your name and put them in the name of the Trust. This is what allows your heirs to bypass Probate Court and some estate taxes. The process is more involved, but in some situations, the benefits are clearly worth the effort.
Another important group of instruments that is vital to effective estate planning is a Living Will and Medical Power of Attorney. These devices have recently gained national attention as a result of unfortunate cases such as Terry Schaivo. They allow you to make your intentions known should you enter a vegetative or comatose state, or if you lose your mental ability to make medical decisions. Not only does a Living Will protect your desires in these situations, but they also protect you family members from being forced to make difficult decisions on your behalf. In recent years, these documents have become much