Estate Planning Attorney in Wheeling, West Virginia
Comprehensive estate planning extends well beyond end-of-life decisions, contrary to the common perception. In addition to distributing assets via wills and trusts after death, comprehensive estate planning involves establishing legal provisions for incapacity and asset protection at any stage of life.
Thomas E. McIntire & Associates, L.C. is headquartered in Wheeling and serves all of West Virginia. Our law firm is home to a committed estate planning professional group with a passion for assisting people around the region. Our professional estate planning attorney in Wheeling works with clients to alleviate their concerns and lessen the burden on their families in the event of a future loss.
Why Do You Need an Estate Planning Attorney in West Virginia?
Meeting with our skilled and knowledgeable Wheeling estate planning attorney can ensure that you and your loved ones are adequately protected. In addition, we can assist you with the following:
We Can Help You Avoid the Protracted and Expensive Probate Procedure
Probate is a legal procedure for distributing the estate of a deceased individual to his or her heirs and beneficiaries. This procedure is exceedingly costly, may take up to two years, and is highly public. When it comes to probate, there is some solace. Even without a trust, this procedure is not always required. When all of your assets are allocated to beneficiaries, you can avoid probate.
We Know How to Best Protect You, Your Property, and Your Family
A solid estate plan will include many papers to guarantee that your loved ones will not have to jump through hoops after your death. An estate strategy can consist of:
- Will or Pourover Will
- Power of Attorney
- Medical directive
- General Assignment
- Guardianship Nomination
Meeting with our knowledgeable estate planning attorney will ensure that all bases are covered, allowing you to have peace of mind.
We Can Save You Time and Energy and We Will Avoid Frequent Errors
Estate planning assists in organizing your documents and intentions. This will make it easier for your loved ones to locate vital financial documents, titles, insurance policies, and beneficiary designations after your departure. In addition, this planning approach can help you identify and correct errors and omissions while you are still alive and able to do so.
In the process of identifying recipients, a typical error is committed. For instance, naming beneficiaries for your IRA or 401k might have major tax implications. Other frequent errors that our estate planning attorney may help you avoid are:
- Not establishing an estate plan
- Not finishing the procedure
- Developing an insufficient estate planning
- Excluding certain assets or individuals
- Not updating the estate plan when life circumstances change
We Can Create an Estate Plan That Will Provide for Special Needs Family Members
Establishing a special needs trust is highly hard and involves specialized understanding and estate planning. For instance, you may have a child with special needs whose public assistance may be terminated if he or she inherits assets outright. Fortunately, certain types of trusts may be established so that relatives with special needs can continue receiving government assistance while obtaining their inheritance.
We are well-versed in special needs trusts and can assist guarantee that your loved one is safeguarded and has access to your legacy to supplement their meager government income.
We Can Help You Lower Your Tax Obligations
Whether or not your estate is subject to federal estate taxes relies on several criteria.
- The gross value of your estate
- The amount you owe at the time of your death
- Total costs incurred during the administration of your estate
- Any deductions your estate is qualified to claim
From there, you may determine your net estate by removing debt and costs, charitable contributions, and any transfers to a spouse from a trust from the gross estate. Then you remove your federal estate tax exemption from your net estate.
We Will Update Your Estate Planning Documents When Required
Life is unpredictable, and circumstances and desires can change. Whenever there is a major life event – such as a divorce, the birth of a child, marriage, the aging of chosen trustees, a change in relationships or family dynamics – it is necessary to update your estate plan so that it continues to fulfill your preferences and your family’s requirements.
After a significant life event, contacting the best estate planning attorney in Wheeling can ensure that your legal paperwork reflects your most recent intentions and goals. Hiring our skilled estate planning attorney may save your life, as we will assist you to avoid costly errors, have an in-depth understanding of the estate planning procedure, and act as your champion.
We’ll Offer Objectivity
The process of estate preparation may be emotional. Additionally, family relationships might make it challenging to select the optimal approach. Our experienced estate planning attorney brings an additional voice of reason to assist you with your present and future requirements. We will be able to give you a straightforward and objective response, which will assist you to safeguard your family in the future.
Trusts are documents that allow individuals to bypass the judicial system and transfer money and property directly to beneficiaries. You are your own trustee while you are alive and may handle your assets, but we recommend naming a successor trustee to oversee distributions after your death.
What Are the Different Types of Trust?
You can utilize a revocable living trust as a popular estate planning strategy to choose who will inherit your property upon your death. Most living trusts are “revocable” because they may be modified if circumstances or desires change. Revocable living trusts are “living” because they are created throughout one’s lifetime. Sometimes, we refer to this as “inter vivos.”
Trusts that are irrevocable cannot be canceled once they have been established. This distinguishes them from revocable trusts, which can be terminated, at least until the trust creator (the grantor) dies and the trust becomes irreversible. There are dozens upon dozens of irrevocable trust kinds created for various objectives. The two most prevalent reasons for establishing an irrevocable trust are tax reduction and asset protection.
Irrevocable Trusts for Tax Reduction
Most grantors utilize irrevocable trusts to minimize or decrease tax liability. For instance:
A trust established by couples to reduce estate taxes upon the death of the second spouse. When the first spouse dies, the majority of his or her assets are transferred to the trust. The surviving spouse is permitted to utilize trust property (and trust income), but he or she never owns it. Therefore, this property is not included in the inheritance of the surviving spouse.
Qualified Terminable Interest Property (QTIP) Trusts
A trust is utilized by couples to defer the payment of estate taxes until the death of the second spouse.
Qualified Domestic Trust (QDOT)
Similar to QTIP trusts, but utilized when one spouse is not a U.S. citizen.
A trust that reduces income and estate taxes through charitable contributions. There are three types of charitable trusts:
The purpose of these trusts is to decrease estate taxes for affluent families. A grandchild or group of grandkids is the last beneficiary. The kid is often a beneficiary of income, but never the property itself so that the trust’s assets are not liable to estate tax upon the child’s death. A generation-skipping transfer tax applies to this form of trust.
Life Insurance Trusts
These trusts decrease estate taxes by withdrawing life insurance proceeds from a taxable estate. Instead, the insurance policy is owned by the trust. The policy’s beneficiary can be anyone, but the trustee must be someone other than the policy’s former owner. Once the trust is created, the grantor does not influence the insurance, and the trust must exist for at least three years before the grantor’s death.
Grantor-Retained Interest Trusts
Additionally, these trusts cut estate taxes by withdrawing assets from taxable estates. The trust creator transfers assets into an irrevocable trust and appoints beneficiaries, but keeps an interest in the trust for a certain period. This interest might be a fixed annuity from the trust (Grantor Retained Annuity Trust), a variable annuity from the trust (Grantor Retained Unitrust), trust income (Grantor Retained Income Trust), or the right to reside in the trust property, a house (Qualified Personal Residence Trust).
When the specified period expires, the ultimate beneficiaries become the sole owners of the property, and the IRS values the gift at the moment the trust was created. Unless the grantor outlives the trust’s terms, no savings will be generated.
Irrevocable Trusts for Asset Protection
In addition to preventing the waste of assets, irrevocable trusts can also be used to safeguard a disabled person’s assets.
Spendthrift trusts allow you to preserve (and manage) donations you give to individuals who may be unable to handle their funds. You place assets in a trust, and the trustee (who can be you) distributes funds to the beneficiary following the conditions of the trust. The beneficiary is unable to access trust assets, so they are safeguarded from the beneficiary’s creditors – at least until payments are given directly to the beneficiary.
Special Needs Trusts
A special needs trust gives financial assistance to individuals with exceptional needs without impacting his or her eligibility for government benefits. A trust is established for the benefit of a person with special needs, typically by a parent or other family. The provisions of the trust let the trustee utilize trust funds to purchase specific items for the beneficiary, but because the beneficiary does not own the trust property, it is not considered an asset when the beneficiary applies for government assistance.
A will, sometimes known as a “last will and testament,” is a legal document that expresses your ultimate preferences, including the distribution of your possessions. It is read by a county probate court upon your passing, and the court ensures that your final desires are followed out.
What Are the Different Types of Will?
Wills might differ in their precise intent, form, and structure. For instance:
The simplest or most fundamental will specifies who should receive whatever property, names an executor to assist carry out your desires, and chooses a guardian for any minor children.
Joint or Shared Will
A joint will (one will for a married couple) attempts to tie both spouses to the same set of wishes, however, it is invalid in some states and is generally opposed by attorneys today.
Holographic or Unwitnessed Will
In some states, a holographic will is valid even if it does not meet the conventional legal standards for a will, although it should only be produced in emergencies where witnesses are unavailable.
A pour-over will is a regular addition to a living trust, and is used to transfer any property inadvertently excluded from the trust.
Power of Attorney
A power of attorney (POA) is a straightforward instrument that grants another person the authority to act on your behalf. In certain states, the person you authorize to act on your behalf is known as an “attorney-in-fact” or “agent.” An attorney-in-fact or agent does not need to be an actual attorney; you can name your spouse, child, sibling, friend, or anyone else you trust to manage your financial or medical affairs.
What Are the Different Types of Power of Attorney?
Numerous circumstances can be addressed with a power of attorney. You can create a POA for a single transaction (such as enabling your brother to sell your car while you’re out of town) or a “durable” power of attorney that will allow someone to handle your financial or medical concerns if you ever become disabled.
Durable Power of Attorney
Everyone, regardless of age or circumstances, should form a durable POA—that is, a POA that stays in force even if you become disabled. It is a technique of being prepared for unforeseen circumstances, notwithstanding the difficulty of contemplating them. In reality, the majority of estate plans incorporate two independent durable POAs, which are described in further detail below.
Financial Durable Power of Attorney
A financial POA grants your agent the authority to handle your financial affairs once you are no longer able to do so. Using a financial POA, for instance, your agent might deposit your Social Security checks, pay your taxes, and manage your retirement account.
Medical Durable Power of Attorney
A health care or medical durable power of attorney authorizes an agent to oversee your medical treatment. This document is known by several names. Your state may also refer to it as a “health care proxy,” “health care directive,” or “advance directive.” To further complicate matters, several states combine a health care POA with a different document called a “living will,” which specifies the sort of medical treatment and end-of-life care you desire.
Non-Durable or Limited Power of Attorney
A non-durable POA, on the other hand, expires if you become disabled. This sort of POA is often utilized for a one-time job or for a limited amount of time. For instance, you may utilize a non-durable POA if you require a friend to handle all of your financial concerns, such as insurance paperwork and bank transactions, while you are recovering from surgery. This power of attorney would have an expiration date.
Springing Power of Attorney
A springing POA is a power of attorney that does not “spring” into effect until the occurrence of a trigger event. Some individuals, particularly those who are uncomfortable with the concept of relinquishing control, desire a durable power of attorney for finances that is effective only if they have been certified incapable by a third party.
This may seem appealing, but a springing POA might provide logistical challenges. Utilizing a durable financial POA, naming an agent you trust, and informing the agent that the document is to be utilized only if you become incapacitated is typically the best course of action.
Personalized Estate Planning Options Suited for Your Needs
Estate planning may give security and peace of mind in the case of incapacity, as well as instructions for the disposal of assets upon death. Our complete estate planning services at Thomas E. McIntire & Associates, L.C. include advice in these and related areas:
- Advance instructions
- Estate planning
- Probate issues
Partnering with our skilled Wheeling estate planning attorney provides you access to up-to-date advice and direction regarding estate planning matters. Clients searching for an estate planning attorney in West Virginia want to know they are in qualified hands, but they must also feel comfortable with the individual with whom they will disclose extremely sensitive information and objectives.
Aside from estate matters, we can also help you with your bankruptcy and personal injury concerns. For a consultation with our compassionate and caring estate planning attorney, please contact us by phone or online form.