Estate planning includes much more than the preparation of a will. Attention must be given to coordinating aspects of a client's overall financial and business plan, including preparing powers of attorney for property and health care, preparing living wills, planning for lifetime gifts to children, determining the appropriate form of ownership for assets, including the operation and structure of closely held businesses, valuation discount, planning for retirement, assisting in determination of life insurance needs, income, estate, gift and generation-skipping transfer tax planning, and analyzing the use of a living trust versus probate.
The State provides a testamentary scheme should a person fail to have a will, but that scheme often does not satisfy dispositive goals. For example, the State's plan does not effectively provide for the management of property for minor beneficiaries or provide charitable bequests. Due to the firm's experience in this area, client wills are prepared to accomplish dispositive goals, regardless of estate size, in a cost-effective manner. If an estate is large, Sorling Northrup has the expertise to prepare estate planning documents to minimize severe estate and generation-skipping transfer tax consequences that may occur at death and maximize the distribution of assets to ultimate beneficiaries.
The use of trusts in estate and business planning has become increasingly popular. While not for every individual, revocable trusts, also known as living trusts, can play an important role in estate, business, and tax planning. A revocable trust can assist individuals with asset management in the event of incapacity, avoid probate, assist in maintaining a closely-held business within a family without the publicity of probate, and be a vehicle for implementing various estate, gift and generation-skipping transfer tax strategies.
Irrevocable trusts are an effective estate planning tool, especially in life insurance planning, educational planning, and charitable gifting. Whether a client desires to make educational gifts or charitable gifts in the most tax-effective manner, seek a vehicle to own life insurance to fund a buy-sell arrangement, provide liquidity to pay estate taxes upon death, or reduce the gross value of an estate for estate tax purposes, Sorling Northrup can prepare an irrevocable trust to accomplish these goals. These trusts, along with testamentary trusts and land trusts, involve complex income, estate and gift tax issues and generation-skipping transfer tax ramifications, and require specialized knowledge and skill. Experience with the preparation of these trusts, along with experience in the various administrative difficulties that may arise, permits Sorling Northrup attorneys to provide cost-effective counsel.
Special Retirement Planning
Retirement plan assets are increasingly becoming a major asset in an individual's estate which requires special attention in estate planning. While often overlooked, careful analysis and an understanding of the complicated income and estate tax rules relating to retirement assets are necessary to achieve maximum savings of both income and estate tax. Sorling Northrup is available to assist individuals in integrating their retirement and estate planning objectives in the most effective manner.
Sorling Northrup attorneys who practice in this area include: