The answer is both simple and complex. Simply, your estate is everything you own in your name (real property and personal property). Your estate also includes certain personal decisions and choices about managing your responsibilities if you die or become temporarily or permanently incapacitated. If what you own includes a business, your estate includes that as well.
The complexities of your estate span managing your tax liabilities, who makes decisions---or leads your business, or cares for your dependents---when you cannot, and which of the myriad of tools available will work best to accomplish your final wishes.
Most simply put, your estate is you, your personal and business choices and your stuff.
There are parts of an estate plan that are not about money or possessions. These include giving your permission to manage certain aspects of your person or estate if you cannot manage for yourself. You give those permissions through legal documents which are in effect while you are still living. They include:
1) Advance Directive (Living Will) - If you become terminally ill or incapacitated, this document informs people whether or not you want to be kept alive by articificial means and who will speak in your behalf.
2) Powers of Attorney (Health, Finance) - Your choice of an agent (Attorney In Fact)) who you want to make your health care or financial decisions, if, while you are alive, you become temporarily or permanantly unable to do so on your own.
3) HIPAA Release - Your permission for various professionals (health, financial, educational, etc.) to share your personal, confidential information with the people you have designated to handle your affairs when/if you can't---so that your agents can make informed decisions.
4) Guardianship - For anyone with dependents (minor children, people with disabilities, elders), the person/people you nominate to becme the designated caretaker(s) for those dependents if you should die or become incapacitated.
Once these things are in place, you can start to decide whether you need wills, trusts and/or other documents to pay your final bills and taxes before distributing what is left to your heirs after you pass away. Once you reach the age of 18, everyone needs an estate plan! If you don't make one, your state's laws and the courts will determine what to do with your life as well as your stuff.
Where do we start?
A will or trust or whatever tool you download) may not be the best option for your situation.
Your situation and estate laws change over time and your template form does not.
There are no One-Size-Fits-All inheritance laws---every state has different rules and a generic form cannot possibly address those differences.
Using the wrong tool for the job means that you probably won't get the result you want.
A will or trust may not be enough to deal with all of your final wshes.
Tax liabilities, accidentally omiting a beneficiary, filing the worng document, missing deadlines, invalidating the document you are trying to make, getting sued, and so many other problems can be caused because of little errors made without understanding the consequences.
These are just a few reasons you should have a skilled estate lawyer helping you through probate, estate or trust administration, estate-related tax issues , estate or business succession planning, or estate disputes (in or out of court). Over the long run, an experienced estate attorney actually saves you money, time, stress and relationships.
Choose any or all answers that suit your needs:
1. Subject Matter Know-How: We have four decades of ongoing education, knowledge, wisdom and experience in handling matters of probate, estate and trust administration, estate-related taxes, estate and business succession planning, and estate litigation or dispute mediation.
2. Client Service Mission: We want you to rest assured that your estate needs are handled with the highest quality regard for confidentiality, accuracy, thoroughness, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness.
3. Team Resourcefulness and Innovation: Our depth and breadth of team experience and knowledge means we can offer unique options for preserving your assets and transfering your estate to your heirs in ways that control tax, debt and loss liabilities.
Sometimes. Here's how the Gale Allison team does free consults:
To make or update estate, tax, charitable giving or business succession plans:
You may make an appointment for a 30-minute in-person attorney consult at no cost if:
1) You, and whoever else is to be involved in the estate or other planning consultation, have recently attended one of our monthly, free seminars, and
2) You complete our Confidential Questionnaire
There are no exceptions. Laws, tools and techniques governing estates change often. Attending the seminar and providing us with your personal information applicable to your planning enable us to advise you about your goals and possibly to quote you a probable fee for accomplishing them.
For probate, estate administration, estate or fuiducary income taxes, estate disputes, and any non-estate planning matters:
You can make an appointment for a brief telephone conference to discuss your legal concern at no charge. This 15-minute call enables us to determine if your case is one that we have the time and resources to handle effectively, and answer simple questions.
Answers to public and general information questions about estate matters is available on several of our web pages through links to explanations and resources.
To register for and attend a free seminar to get your estate planning consultation, call 918-900-3005 for reservations, or check our website for free general education about estate matters.
Our team of professionals, paraprofessionals,and administrative assistants comprises the "secret sauce" that controls your attorney costs.
Naturally, Gale Allison's fees - like those of other attorneys of her caliber - are higher due to her far greater education and decades of experience. But, even a new attorney charges $150+/hour. When you pay that lawyer's hourly rate to do everything your case requires (research, drafting documents, reviewing plans and documents with you, notarizing signatures, filing documents at the courthouse, etc.) you will pay $150+/hour for every hour of work which could have been done at lower hourly rates. With the Gale Allison team you pay attorney hourly rates for analysis of your situation, clarification of your goals and strategic advice for how to get you there. But then...
Under that attorney's supervision, research, document drafts, revisions, reviews, correspondence, filings and so many more tasks are done at the hourly rates of legal assistants, paralegals and law clerks to save you money. Your effective hourly rate at Gale Allison, PLLC, is often half of what you'd pay a lawyer who "does it all."
The relationship between you and your estate lawyer is one of confidence and shared responsibility. You will like some things and might not like others because this is a two-way street. With Gale Allison's team on your side, you should expect:
Mutual respect and professionalism
Wisdom and insight in the specific area of your estate need or issue
Explanations in terms and language you understand
Prompt responses to your questions and concerns
Meetings by appointment (so we can be prepared for and focused on you)
Infrequent schedule changes
Fewer papers (because we are a paperless practice,securing your information digitally and saving natural and human resources and time)
Accommodation of your ability or preference for tools and technology
An objective approach to the emotional issues of estate work and problem solving
To share all information about your assets and relationships (because we can't plan for what we don't know about and secrets usually cause costly problems that could have been avoided).
Confidentiality. We keep your information (and secrets) securely guarded.
Resourceful use of our team of professionals and paraprofessionals to reduce your hourly costs.
Our clients are our reason for being. We hope you will enjoy working with the Gale Allison team and will feel free to let us know how we can serve you better.