Wills & Trusts Attorneys | Little Rock

Destiny Law Firm lawyers help you protect your assets for future generations.

Wills & Trusts Attorney in Little Rock

Do I Need a Will or a Trust Attorney?

Everyone needs some type of estate planning document. Wills, trusts, living wills, healthcare proxies, durable powers of attorney, advanced healthcare directives, designation of guardian, beneficiary deeds and other documents are all types of documents which can be used to give you control of your affairs. They help you to advise your family members and others of your desired wishes at the end of life, and to make your wishes clear after death or disability. Estate planning eliminates questions and potential conflicts. Hiring an attorney who understands wills and trusts is an investment in peace of mind, and potentially in maintaining peace for family members and other beneficiaries.

Wills

A will is a document, known historically as a testament, that declares your intent as to how you want your assets and property to be distributed upon the event of your death. Not only can it determine who receives property; it can include who you do not want to receive property, even if the person(s) is your next-of-kin. There are exceptions for spouses when it comes to exclusion. Destiny Law wills and trusts attorneys can discuss your situation with you and advise you accordingly.

A will allows you to determine who will be in charge of administering your estate, and can provide for the payment of your last expenses and other related matters. Wills are administered according to your directions, as well as the probate code and other applicable laws. Wills are filed with the probate clerk. Their validity is determined, then once validated, they are followed as directed and allowed by law. This can be a lengthy process as there are certain waiting periods that must be followed before the estate can be conveyed.

First and foremost, there is a requirement that creditors and potential creditors of the estate must be notified of the death of the maker of the will, or decedent. In Arkansas, this is usually a six-month waiting period during which creditors can make claims for payment of debts before property is distributed. Other rules must also  be followed, which can create further delays. There are ways to minimize these delays, but heirs and beneficiaries must be in agreement.

Once a will in a probate court, the document becomes a public record. Anyone can see an inventory of estate assets and liabilities. For this reason, a trust can be more efficient and desirable.

Trusts

A trust is often called a “living trust” because it is set up during the life of the maker, known as the settlor or grantor, and can carry on business while its creator is still alive.

Another benefit of the trust is that it marshals all of the assets of the decedent into one document to be administered at the same time. It is managed and handled privately in most cases. Usually, a trust only becomes public record when it is litigated, or when the trust is silent on a term that needs to be determined by a court.

A trust provides for much faster distribution of assets to the beneficiaries, and also allows for some control the manner and timing of distributions. Alternatively, assets may remain in trust until a time the maker designates.

In some cases a trust may reduce or eliminate estate taxes. Tax advice will help determine which is the best way to establish a trust to accomplish this.

Simple Trusts, Special Trusts, and Corporate Fiduciaries

A simple trust, created for smaller estates, can be relatively inexpensive to set up and maintain. Most trusts are revocable and can be amended at any time. They can also be counseled out right at any time prior to being terminated by the settlor.

Most trusts provide for the distribution of assets after the death of the settlor, but a trust may allow for the property to be held for a time and distributed later. The person or people managing and administering the estate are known as trustees. Trustees may be one or more people, or may be a corporate entity, also known as a corporate fiduciary.

A trust can help minors to avoid a guardianship proceeding. A special needs trust can provide for dependent family members with special needs. This can prevent the beneficiary from losing all public assistance benefits because of money received or inherited under a trust or will.

In larger estates, or where there are commercial interests or businesses to run, a corporate entity can be utilized to manage trust’s assets until distribution. In these cases, the assets of the trust are managed by a corporate fiduciary in accordance with certain probate statutes. The trustee ensures safeguarding of the property to maximize the value of any assets.

When a person creates a trust, all of the assets are removed from individual ownership by the maker and conveyed into the new entity. As such, the creator of the trust is no longer the individual owner of the assets. They can still retain control by naming themselves the initial trustee of the trust.

Revocable and Irrevocable Trusts

A trust can be revocable or irrevocable.

As the name implies, with an revocable trust, the owner may change the trust, add to it, take property away from it, or terminate it as desired.

An irrevocable trust permanently conveys the asset out of the hands of the maker so that they may no longer have any control. An irrevocable trust is utilized, primarily, for tax avoidance purposes, or to allow for receipt of public assistance in the future after a proposed look-back period, usually deemed to be five years.

Contact our office today to let us evaluate your situation and wishes to help you determine which estate planning route is best for you.

After-Death Management of Estates and Transfers of Title

After a person dies, the property of the estate is managed in what is known as “administration” of the estate. If there is a will, this is done through probate court according to the terms of the will, if valid. If there is no will, administration is done according to statutory law.

By statute, the person who administers the will must post a bond equivalent to the value of the assets of the estate unless the will specifically requests that the person handling the administration known as the Executor (male) or Executrix (female) serve without bond. Historically the terms executory and executrix were used and reflected the gender of the person. The more modern terminology uses the term “Personal Representative” to avoid gender distinctions.

Our team of attorneys are experienced in managing and administering wills and trust can guide you through this complicated process. Call Destiny Law Firm today for an appointment.

Schedule a Consultation

If you have questions about whether a trust or will is right for you, or if you have other estate planning concerns, contact our office to schedule appointment for a consultation.