Wills and Trusts / Probate Attorneys
The Coulter Law Group offers counsel and advice to individuals and families in estate planning matters, including the drafting of estate plans, reviewing existing estate plans, trust administration, probate, and trust/will disputes.
Estate planning documents should be drafted in clear, understandable language. We strive to draft plain language documents that do not require an attorney to understand.
An estate plan is a series of documents in which you provide instructions regarding your care if you were ever incapacitated, and directs how your assets are to be distributed upon your death. An estate plan also includes documents that allow you to control decisions with regard to who should speak for you, and care for you and your assets, when you are unable to so.
Comprehensive estate planning, which includes a living trust, can help you avoid probate and thousands of dollars in unnecessary court costs (e.g. costs to have a court appointment a guardian and/or probate of your estate). Comprehensive estate planning also plans for your disability, and keeps your affairs private.
If you have already completed your estate plan, but it has been over two(2) years since it was completed, we recommend that you review your estate planning documents to ensure that you clearly understand the documents, and consider which revisions you may want to make, which may include:
- Changes in your relationships with persons named in your existing estate planning documents
- Changes to Beneficiaries of your estate
- Changes to your financial assets
- Reviewing guardianship appointments for your minor children.
- If you have already executed a Trust, that by itself may not avoid probate. The key to avoiding probate is properly funding the Trust.
Probate and Trust Administration Attorney Guidance
Probate: If you have passed away without a will, you are said to have died “intestate.” Your property will be divided up according to a formula fixed by law and the court will designate an administrator to handle your affairs. Following payment of taxes, debts, funeral and administrative costs, the remaining property will be divided among the surviving spouse, children, and relatives. Probate proceedings are needed to ensure an orderly transfer of property after a person passes away. It is also necessary to safeguard the deceased’s person’s estate; pay all debts and taxes; and resolve who is entitled to what assets and to disburse the property accordingly.
Even if you have a will or assets not owned by a living trust, probate of your estate may still be necessary.
Trust Administration: Upon the death of a loved one, the trustee (often a family member) has the duty to administering the deceased’s trust and estate. There are many tasks that must be performed, including filing tax returns; collecting and protecting important documents; collecting and protecting assets; notifying employee benefit plans, social security, and life, accident or disability insurance companies; satisfying debts; and making distributions. The trustee has fiduciary duties to fulfill. It is often recommended that the trustee receive legal counsel to ensure to protect the interests of the estate, beneficiaries, creditors, and the trustee.
Trust Disputes and Contested Probate: It is not uncommon that beneficiaries of an Estate have a legitimate dispute over will or trust provisions, disagreements amongst family, or problems with the trustee’s or personal representative’s administration of the Estate or trust. Perhaps there has been incidents of fraud, undue influence, waste, or self-dealing. Without an advocate to assist you, personal relationships and your emotional well-being can rapidly deteriorate. We can help protect and enforce your interests. Unlike most firms, the Coulter Law Group has the ability to represent clients in trust dispute and contested probate matters under alternative fee agreements, including contingency fee agreements. This arrangement benefits certain clients who have been wronged, but do not have the financial ability to retain an attorney on an hourly fee basis.