Estate Planning

EstatePlanningMain

Wills – Trusts – Powers of Attorney  Guardianships

What happens to all of your savings, real property, personal belongings and other “stuff” when you die?  The purpose of an estate plan is to answer this question.  Without an estate plan, the “intestacy” laws of the State of Utah answer this question (assuming you are a resident of Utah when you die).

Sometimes you add other people’s names to your accounts and property, thinking this is an adequate estate plan.  It isn’t, for a number of reasons.  Among the problems caused by this kind of plan are claims of creditors of the person you added to the account.  Often, we believe that our trusted daughter will “do the right thing” and share the account with her brothers and sisters.  Too often brothers and sisters disagree over minor things that rapidly escalate into major arguments.  We know it will never happen to your family, but we see it way too often.

A carefully prepared will and/or trust can prevent bad outcomes and often preserve family harmony.  A Special Needs Trust, either prepared as a separate document or included in a will or trust, can prevent a special needs child from being disqualified from receiving public benefits.

A carefully considered estate plan also usually includes an expanded durable power of attorney naming a trusted person to act in your behalf in the event you are unable to act on your own, due to illness, incapacity, or absence.

If you or a loved one failed to plan in advance with a power of attorney and other planning documents, it may be necessary to ask a court to appoint a guardian and/or conservator for you to assist in making decisions about your daily life and financial matters.


Elder Law

ElderLawMain

Medicaid - Long Term Care -  Asset Protection Planning 

Most of us hope to spend our later years in our own homes.  Others prefer the comfort and care provided by assisted living.  Sometimes, due to severe illness or other causes, we may require more assistance than our families can provide.  Whatever the circumstances,a substantial percentage of all persons over age 70 spend their last years in an assisted living or nursing home facility.

The average cost of staying in an assisted living facility in Utah is  about $3000 a month.  The average cost of nursing home care is $5000 per month for a semi-private room and $6000 per month for a private room.  Medicare does not provide for assisted living or nursing home care for more than 100 days at the maximum.  The only public program available to assist with the cost of assisted living or nursing home care is Medicaid.  But Medicaid only provides aid if you are “sick and broke.” 

 To be “sick” enough for Medicaid assistance you only have to have problems with certain activities of daily living.  To be “broke” enough for Medicaid, you can not have more than $2,000.00 and certain other exempt assets.  And if you try to qualify by giving away your property within five years before needing assistance, you are penalized by delaying qualifying for a substantial period of time.  During this time you find yourself in a catch two situation where you have given away all of your assets, and have no way now to pay for the care you need during a prolonged penalty period that may last for several years.

It turns out that there are ways around this dilemma, but the rules are extremely complex and the path is strewn with pitfalls. We have spent the last several years learning the rules and learning various pathways through the minefields.  We have been assisting clients through this maze for some time.  We call this Medicaid Asset Protection Planning.

There are times when clients need to do Asset Protection Planning of a more traditional kind.  They may be in particularly risky businesses, or have other reasons that traditional insurance may not be sufficient to protect their assets.  There are a number of ways to shield one's assets from unforeseen claims, depending on the circumstances.  Among the methods of protecting your assets is the preparation of an Asset Protection Trust, or the formation of a business entity, such as a limited liability company or corporation.

Whatever your circumstances, we have substantial experience dealing with these issues.


Estate Administration

EstateAdministration

Probate - Trust Administration - Guardianships - Other Court Matters

When a loved one passes, there are inevitable issues with carrying out their wishes and seeing that their property makes it to the ones rightfully entitled to it.  If there has been careful, up to date planning, this usually goes fairly smoothly,  But for a number of reasons, you may need assistance with seeing that the loved one’s wishes are faithfully followed. This is what Estate Administration is all about.

In some instances, because there has been no planning, probate of the person’s “estate” (everything they own and owe) is required.  This involves filing a written request with the court (an “application” or “petition”) seeking the appointment of a “personal representative” who is given authority to manage the payment of any expenses of last illness and creditors, and deliver the remaining estate to the “heirs”.

Even when there has been up to date planning, the family may need assistance with interpreting the will and trust and winding up the person’s affairs.

And, unfortunately, there are too many occasions when greed, jealousy, or other negative emotions take over and require the intervention of the court.

All of these things involve issues concerning property titles and, sometimes, business interests.  Mr. Warner  has a long history of dealing with these issues.  Perhaps longer than any other practicing attorney in northern Utah.  Mr. Warner is also regarded as one of the top 100 trial attorneys in Utah by the National Association of Trial Attorneys.  Call us when you have questions with wrapping  up your loved one’s financial affairs.


Other Legal Services:

LawWarner Law Firm's primary focus is estate planning and elder law matters.  However, we also have substantial experience and provide services in related areas such as:

  • Real property transactions and litigation, including real estate sales, real estate development, property line disputes, easements, zoning; and
  • Business matters and litigation, including business sales, leases, and formation of limited liability companies, partnerships and corporations.