Creating a Will can be complicated. A Tacoma estate planning attorney at Morton McGoldrick can help you create and properly complete a Will. A Will directs how your property should be distributed after you die and identifies who should be in charge of that distribution (in Washington, that person is called your personal representative). If you have minor children, a Will may also identify who you want to take care of your children (and any property you leave your children) if you die when they are still minors. All of these issues and concerns can be competently addressed with a Will expertly drafted by an estate planning attorney.
Having a well-drawn, properly executed Will can ensure that your wishes will be followed and may also prevent a contest between your heirs. Such contests are not uncommon, especially if the Will is not properly signed and witnessed. An estate planning attorney at Morton McGoldrick can help you decide how your Will should direct distribution of your property in light of the size of your estate and the age and well-being of your spouse, children, grandchildren or other heirs. The distribution may involve setting up trusts in your Will, structuring the timing of distributions to your heirs, and taking steps to mitigate estate taxes. An estate planning attorney at Morton McGoldrick can also help you identify who should be in charge of your estate and who might act as guardian of your minor children, if necessary, on your death. Having a Will can protect your estate and prevent unnecessary expenditures at the time of death. Contact an estate planning attorney with Morton McGoldrick to have your Will prepared and be confident that your wishes will be honored upon your death.
If you have already created a Will and want or need to change it, an estate planning attorney at Morton McGoldrick can help. Because individual and family situations change over time, changes to Wills are often necessary. Sometimes changes in the tax laws necessitate a change in your Will or estate plan to minimize the amount of estate or income tax that will be due upon death. Having your Will or estate plan reviewed regularly can result in making changes to your Will that will insure your estate plan is compliant with and taking advantage of the most recent tax laws. Some of the estate planning attorneys at Morton McGoldrick have advanced law degrees in taxation and are highly trained to assist you in estate planning that will minimize the tax burden on your estate. In addition to making changes to update a Will, our team can revise your Will if it was not drafted well in the first place, no longer accurately reflects your desires or is no longer appropriate based upon an increase in your wealth. Other mistakes in a Will (for example, if the will was not properly signed and witnessed) can expose it to being contested in court and can place additional and unnecessary burdens on your personal representative. An estate planning attorney at Morton McGoldrick can help you make any needed changes to your Will so that it is compliant with current laws, takes advantage of available tax breaks and clearly states your intention for disposition of your assets when you die.
Power of Attorney and Living Will Creation
What would happen if you were no longer capable of making decisions about and managing your finances and your health care? An estate planning attorney at Morton McGoldrick can help you plan for this possibility by helping you create personalized powers of attorney and a living will (also known as a health care directive). A power of attorney allows you to authorize another person to act for you with regard to your finances and health care when you are unable to. A living will allows you to clearly state your wishes about what kind of life-sustaining treatments you do or do not want to receive at the end of your life if you are unable to communicate your wishes about such treatments at that time.
We provide advice to trustees with regard to the performance of their duties as trustees and their investment, tax, and accounting responsibilities. An estate planning attorney at Morton McGoldrick can help with the preparation of fiduciary income tax returns and estate tax returns and can help with any audit of such returns. We represent trustees with respect to the interpretation of trust provisions and, upon termination of the trust, the distribution of trust assets to beneficiaries. The following are some examples of the trust administration services a Tacoma estate planning attorney with Morton McGoldrick can provide:
- Advice Regarding Trustee Duties
- Preparation of Tax Returns
- Audit Assistance
- Hold Trust Property
- Administration of Trust
- Amendment and Termination of Trusts
“We offer trust services for clients who prefer to work with their legal advisors in serving as a trustee or other fiduciary on their behalf.”
The estate planning attorneys at Morton McGoldrick work closely with our clients through every step of the trust creation process, regardless of the type of trust. Through individually tailored estate plans, we help our clients build, expand, and preserve their wealth. Each estate planning attorney at Morton McGoldrick will review each client’s needs, learning about his or her specific family situation, tax status, tolerance for investment risk, and any other particular requirements, in order to best assist in preserving their wealth, by avoiding the unnecessary taxes, expenses, hassles, and delays that are often associated with the probate process.
The team of estate planning attorneys at Morton McGoldrick assists clients by working closely with their financial advisors in developing individual financial plans for the management and use of assets during the clients’ lifetimes. This includes providing advice about legal and tax aspects of joint ownership of property; forming family limited partnerships and limited liability companies for property management and for lifetime transfers to family members; planning for the possibility of disability through durable powers of attorney, living wills, and revocable living trusts; and providing advice about the desirability of making gifts and the general effect of income tax laws.
Family Succession Planning
Morton McGoldrick’s estate planning attorneys assist clients with retirement planning, business succession planning, asset protection, and entity formation. Our estate planning attorneys concentrate on succession planning and tax deferral and reduction through various techniques during the formation and funding of family entities. An integral part of the estate planning process, tax planning involves the arrangement of your affairs in a way to best reduce tax liability. Our skilled estate planning attorneys will ensure that your paperwork incorporates the simplest tax planning strategy possible to minimize the tax burden on your heirs while still complying with all relevant federal, state, and local laws.
Our estate planning attorneys can assist you in setting up a Private Family Foundation (PFF), which is a separate entity, privately funded by you, created to fund various charitable causes. A PFF is managed by an appointed trustee or executive director, who oversees the foundation’s investments and distributes its assets. As a distinct legal entity, the PFF can help minimize the number of potential tax liabilities, while at the same time contributing to a charitable cause and preserving the family legacy. However, as with any estate planning strategy, there are drawbacks. In this case, up-front legal fees make PFFs cost-prohibitive for many estates under $2 to $3 million. Our estate planning attorneys also work with Public Foundations, such as The Seattle Foundation or the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation, allowing clients to establish Donor-Advised Funds. Morton McGoldrick gives you the benefit of a local Tacoma estate planning attorney when and if you seek to include local charities in your estate plan.
Post-Mortem Tax Planning
An important part of our practice involves assisting clients in making various elections for tax purposes after a death has occurred. This includes decisions on whether to claim available deductions on estate or income tax returns, whether to use date-of-death values or alternate valuation date values for estate tax purposes, whether to file joint income tax returns with a surviving spouse or to consent for gift tax purposes to treat gifts as if made equally by a decedent and spouse. Other planning decisions involve income tax planning, selection of fiscal years for income tax purposes, timing of distributions, making qualified terminable interest property elections, the appropriate use of disclaimers, funding of trusts with selected assets, the allocation and use of generation-skipping transfer tax exemptions, and many other tax planning elections. Each estate planning attorney at Morton McGoldrick is uniquely qualified to assist you with these critical choices at a time when making such choices can be difficult for those having to make them. Our team can help.
Trust and Estate Litigation
With a combination of experienced litigators and estate planning attorneys working together to advance our clients’ interests, we are uniquely positioned to represent clients in a wide range of disputes, including Will and trust contests, removal of trustees and other fiduciaries, defense and prosecution of breaches of fiduciary duties, elder abuse, and reformation and interpretations of ambiguous estate planning documents.
Our attorneys regularly represent trustees, beneficiaries, and persons with claims against trust and estate assets, with particular attention toward championing the decedent’s intent. It is not uncommon for us to protect a trustee from disgruntled beneficiaries, or conversely ensure that a trustee is allocating and distributing assets in a fair and just matter on behalf of our beneficiary clients.
While we advocate zealously in all litigation matters, a particular awareness, appreciation, and sensitivity to the inherent familial ties in trust and estate litigation is ever-present in the minds of our attorneys and staff as we conduct our representation in these cases. We understand that there are not only legal issues involved with trust and estate litigation but also family issues.