An older couple going through legal documents with a lawyer.Estate Planning

At Fowler St. Clair we focus on building trust. This is what the estate planning attorneys at Fowler St. Clair focus on every day.

We know that building wealth is complicated. We also understand that managing and protecting wealth is even harder. Making wealth endure requires a knowledgeable and experienced team with a solid understanding of finance, law, family, and relationships. Our estate planning attorneys can help you make a solid plan for the future.

Planning Ahead

We help you plan ahead for the protection and distribution of your assets so that your family can continue just as you have planned.

Helping your Family

When a loved one dies, relatives can often find themselves at odds with each other. There are funeral plans to discuss, assets to manage and distribute, guardianship of children and even decisions about the guardianship of pets. While very few people enjoy the prospect or process of planning for their own death, this is something that the most discerning and forward thinking individuals do. And they do it while they are in good health and of sound mind.

Why People Wait

Unfortunately, more than 60% of American’s don’t have a will. Most people simply don’t like thinking about their mortality. But there are several other reasons.

  • I just haven’t gotten around to making a will.
  • Making a will just isn’t a high priority
  • I don’t have enough assets to need a will
  • I’m young, I’ll have plenty time to do it later when life slows down

We encourage people of all ages to consider the benefits of starting now to plan for their future by creating a will and starting an estate plan.

The disadvantages of not having a will or trust

A legal will document with a fountain pen laying on it.Dying “intestate” or without a will puts your family and your assets at risk. Without a plan, the laws of the state of your residence will determine the distribution of your assets, which do not always reflect your exact wishes. Generally, if you are a married person with children, your spouse and then your children will inherit all that you have.

If you are single and have no children, the intestate succession laws of the state will determine which relatives will inherit your property and assets.

If you do not have a living spouse but have minor children, state law will determine the guardianship of your children.

But probably the greatest disadvantage for everyone involved is that your estate will go through the lengthy and costly process of probate. This is the process of the courts reviewing, evaluating and deciding what should happen to the assets you’ve worked so hard to accumulate.

The advantages of a Trust

If you have worked hard and accumulate assets of more than $250,000 you may want to consider establishing a trust.

Trusts are a plan to protect your assets while you are alive and to minimize estate taxes and probate after your death. A trust gives you greater control over when and how your assets will be distributed, allowing you to dictate exactly which of your loved ones and friends will receive an inheritance. This is where having a team experienced in estate planning can be so helpful.

Protecting Assets for the Future

By building lasting relationships, Fowler St. Clair is more than just a firm that helps clients manage wealth – we help manage peace of mind. We become our clients’ travel guides on the arduous journey of estate planning, helping with:

  • Trust formation
  • Asset assignment
  • Wills
  • Health care directives
  • Powers of Attorney
  • Deeds

Whether simply requiring a will to protect assets for the next generation, or creating a comprehensive estate plan, Fowler St. Clair is here to win your trust in partnering with you on such a lifelong journey. Following are more details about the services and benefits we provide our estate planning clients.

Planning Your Estate

A Living Trust and Estate Planning document with a pen sitting on it.At Fowler St. Clair our basic estate planning package includes the following items:

  • A revocable living trust — this vehicle will eliminate probate court entanglements. A revocable living trust allows you to make plans to transfer your property specifically as you wish, without the state being involved. It will also eliminate any questions of guardianship for your minor children. And can even provide for a testamentary trust, which controls the distribution of assets for the better benefit of the child. Finally, a trust allows you to identify who you want to manage and distribute your assets according to the terms of your trust.
  • A property deed — transferring your home and other properties into the trust protects the asset and makes the transfer to your heirs seamless.
  • Pour-over wills — ensuring all property is transferred to the chosen beneficiaries. In the event that an asset is overlooked from being included in the trust, this tool provides assurances that the asset will pass according to your wishes.
  • Healthcare Power of Attorney and Living Will
    • Identifies your choice of health care agent and any alternates and grants them power to make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you are deemed incompetent.
    • Gives directions to your agent and physicians through the Living Will regarding the continuation of life support systems.
    • Outlines your wishes in regards to funeral arrangements, organ donation, and autopsy requirements.
  • General Durable Power of Attorney — similar to the Healthcare Power of Attorney, but this grants your agent specific powers to make important financial decisions on your behalf if you are incapable of doing so on your own.

Other Estate Planning Issues

Beyond our basic estate-planning package we can assist you with these more complex issues.

  • Business Succession plans utilizing Limited Liability Companies (LLC), Operating Agreements and Trusts which can be utilized to streamline the passage of business assets.
  • LLC – Membership interest purchase and sale agreements
  • Creation of LLC for any real estate assets to shield the trust from any potential liability associated with those assets.

As you can see, at Fowler St. Clair we know how to help our clients preserve and protect their assets so that their legacy continues and benefits family and business associates for generations to come. We help built trust and the future.