Cloud Willis & Ellis’s experienced Birmingham wills & estate planning attorneys will represent you to insure your wishes are honored. We will prepare all the appropriate documents, including wills, trusts, guardianships, conservatorships, powers-of-attorney, and advance directives for health care to insure your decisions are properly and legally expressed, and to protect your estate as well as your heirs and beneficiaries. Cloud Willis & Ellis attorneys will counsel and guide you in estate and tax planning and help you maximize your quality of life and the value of your estate, including such issues as elder and probate law, special needs and incapacity planning, gifting, and asset protection. Our attorneys are available to administer your estate, and, in the event of any contest, will vigorously defend you, your final wishes, and your estate.

We Can Help You Decide What You Need, Whether it is a Simple Will, a Trust, or More

The assets that you leave behind will determine whether a will or a trust is in your family’s best interests. An experienced will and estate planning attorney will help assess your assets and determine what the best course of action is for you, specifically.

An estate plan as an all-encompassing measure that helps manage your assets after you are gone. An estate almost always includes both a trust and a will, in addition to power of attorney, healthcare directives, and beneficiary designations.

A trust will allow your family to avoid probate (establishing a will’s validity), which can be timely and expensive. According to Fidelity Investments, court and attorney’s fees can reach as much as five percent of the trust’s worth. In addition, a trust becomes necessary when the amount of the estate is very large. A trust can minimize or avoid taxes that your loved ones may be left with. For example, an AB trust can help reduce the estate tax by splitting the trust into two when one spouse passes away. To create an AB trust, both spouses choose a beneficiary to which to award the estate when both pass. We can help you decide whether an AB or other type of trust is right for you and your family. In addition, a trust can give you peace of mind that your estate will not be tampered with by creditors, a divorced spouse, or other family members, and that the assets will go precisely where you intended them to go.

Generally, you will always want to have a will in addition to a trust, though it does not always go the other way. A person that needs a will may only need the will, as a trust may be unnecessary. A will determines who gets your property and assets after you pass away. It is a legally binding document that also appoints a legal representative (an executor) to ensure your will is upheld. While a will lets you pass down your assets, it only applies to probate property. Non-probate property may include property that is jointly owned, trusts, property with a beneficiary such as an IRA, and life insurance. A trust is better suited than a will to implement your wishes if you have one or more non-probate types of property.

The Importance of Health Directives

When a patient is not able to communicate their wishes when it comes to treatment, a doctor may have to rely on a consensus from the patient’s family. When this occurs at the end of life, opinions among the family may differ, which is why a medical directive is so valuable, according to the American Bar Association. Physicians always prefer to have a health care directive as opposed to asking family, whether it is being taken off a ventilator or a ‘do not attempt resuscitation’ order. Additionally, a health directive gives your family peace of mind that your last wishes were carried out, and saves them from wondering if they made the wrong choice.

Whether it is a will, trust, or an entire estate plan, we can help you decide what you need and manage your assets for the benefit of your family when you are gone. Reach out to Birmingham estate planning & wills attorney, Cloud Willis & Ellis, LLC today in Alabama and we can begin working on your behalf.