Wills and Trusts
Wills and Trusts
The estate planning lawyers of Kaufman, Nichols & Kaufman work to protect the assets their clients have worked a lifetime to accumulate. They tell clients directly whether or not they need a trust, which type of trust best suits their needs, or whether a simple will is sufficient.
To properly draft a will or prepare a trust requires more than just filling out forms. Our experienced estate planning attorneys discuss a client’s needs and goals, describe their options, and give them the information they need to make informed decisions about what will happen to their assets and who will care for their children after they are gone.
By carefully preparing the appropriate estate planning instruments, the attorneys are able to protect clients’ estates from a potential will contest or trust dispute.
Kaufman, Nichols & Kaufman handles the following matters related to estate planning:
- Trusts, including trust administration
- Advance health care directives
- Guardianship and conservatorship services
- Contested will and trust dispute litigation
If you do not have an estate plan or if it has been many years since your plan has been reviewed and updated, it is important to contact an attorney that can offer efficient, professional, and cost-effective advice. Contact Kaufman, Nichols & Kaufman in Ogden to schedule a consultation with an experienced estate planning attorney.
Kaufman, Nichols & Kaufman will help your legacy live through your wills and trusts. Contact us to assure your legacy.
In many cases, probate is necessary to settle a deceased person’s affairs and pass property to beneficiaries. The process involves inventorying, gathering and valuing estate assets, giving notice to creditors, settling creditor claims, filing tax returns, paying any applicable income or estate taxes, and transferring assets to beneficiaries named in the will or as directed by Utah probate law. The probate process can be complicated, but its goal is to ensure that the final wishes of the decedent are followed.
Probate in Utah can generally be conducted formally or informally. Kaufman, Nichols & Kaufman’s attorneys are experienced in both formal and informal probate proceedings. The firm can advise the personal representative (sometimes called “executor”) on the performance of these important legal responsibilities.
Should beneficiaries or other interested parties contest the will or dispute the personal representative’s actions in administering the estate, the firm can represent any party in negotiation or in probate actions. The firm can also assist with creditor claims against estates in probate.
The probate process can be complex and time consuming. The attorneys of Kaufman, Nichols & Kaufman are available to work on behalf of the estate, the personal representative, or interested party, including those outside of Utah who have real estate or other estate assets in Utah. With extensive experience handling wills, trusts, estate planning, and probate, the attorneys of Kaufman, Nichols & Kaufman can bring the process to a close in an efficient and cost-effective manner. To discuss your situation with a probate attorney, contact Kaufman, Nichols & Kaufman to schedule a consultation.
Probate can be complex and time consuming. Let Kaufman, Nichols & Kaufman help you through this troubling time.
Trust & Estate Administration
Trust & Estate Administration
Settling the affairs of a deceased person can be a difficult and complex process. An experienced probate attorney can be an important resource for navigating the Byzantine path of an estate settlement. First, it is necessary to have a basic understanding of some of the terminology that goes along with estate administration. Second, it is important to understand why any of this is necessary. Third, it is helpful to understand some of the major milestones and tasks that are required along the way.
The statutory duties of a Personal Representative (“PR”) appointed in the State of Utah are set forth in Utah Code Ann. § 75-3-701 et seq. Generally, as PR your job is to identify, value, protect, and conserve the property of the decedent. You must see that the decedent’s bills and taxes (if any) are paid. You must identify the beneficiaries who are to receive the property of the decedent and see that each receives that to which they are entitled. Some of these duties are outlined more fully below.
At Kaufman, Nichols & Kaufman, our estate administration attorneys can assist you with fulfilling these duties to ensure you comply with the law. Contact Kaufman, Nichols & Kaufman to schedule an appointment with an experienced attorney to discuss your estate administration needs.
One of your most important jobs is to prepare a list of the decedent’s assets. Utah law provides that this inventory must be completed within three (3) months of the PR’s appointment (see UCA §75-3-705). You should prepare an inventory of the personal property in the decedent’s house or apartment. With regard to any safe deposit boxes, they should be opened and an inventory prepared. As required by statute, you should send a copy of the inventory to any “interested person” who requests it.
Estate Checking and Brokerage Account
It may be necessary to establish an estate checking account to receive income and to pay expenses. The expenses of administering the estate should, generally, be paid out of the estate checking account. As with all other actions you take with regard to the estate, the checking account should be opened in your capacity as PR for the estate, not in your individual capacity.
It may also be necessary to establish an estate brokerage account to hold, manage, value, and liquidate any stock held in the decedent’s name upon his or her death.
Personal Representative Fees
As PR, you are entitled to reasonable compensation for services you perform in behalf of the estate. However, such fees are not required. If paid to you, such fees are reportable as income to you in the year received.
As PR, you are responsible for filing the decedent’s final income tax returns (federal and state), the estate income tax return, and the estate and inheritance tax returns (if required). It may be necessary to retain an accountant to assist the estate with the taxes.
If you or the mortuary have not already done so, you should contact the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) (and Veteran’s Administration if applicable) to advise them of the decedent’s death. The estate may be entitled to death benefits from these agencies. Also, if the decedent was receiving Social Security benefits, arrangements must be made to terminate the checks and to, possibly, refund to the SSA payments made for the month of the decedent’s death. Additional information regarding Social Security can be found at the following internet address: http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/10008.html.
Claims for expenses and debts of the decedent should be identified and discharged. A Notice to Creditors should be published, which will effectively bar creditors’ claims that have not been submitted to the estate after three months from the date of publication.
The property of the decedent may include non-probate assets such as jointly owned property, life insurance, pension and employee benefits, and interests held in trust. As PR, you should identify each of these assets and take whatever appropriate steps that are necessary such as preparing appropriate claim forms in the case of life insurance.
Settling the affairs of the deceased can be a difficult process. Kaufman, Nichols & Kaufman offers counsel to help you comply with the law and protect your interests and those of the estate.
Trust and probate disputes involve more than money—they often encompass emotional issues that can divide families and interfere with a trustee’s or personal representative’s administration of the trust or estate. When significant assets are involved, family members sometimes become involved in accusations of undue influence or incompetence, leading to contested will disputes or lawsuits. Kaufman, Nichols & Kaufman’s estate planning attorneys strive to find solutions that help you—whether you are a corporate or individual fiduciary, a beneficiary, or an interested third party—avoid protracted litigation, contain costs, and preserve family relationships. Should proceedings turn adversarial, we work vigorously to protect and advance your interests, leveraging our extensive experience in litigating and resolving trust and probate disputes.
Typical cases may involve the following:
- Undue influence over an estate holder
- Trustee negligence or breach of fiduciary duty
- Improper estate administration
- Will executor negligence or mismanagement
- Will contests
The attorneys of Kaufman, Nichols & Kaufman have extensive experience resolving estate and trust disputes relating to contested wills and the administration of estates and trust distributions. The firm handles all aspects of trust and estate litigation for plaintiffs and defendants.
Contact Kaufman, Nichols & Kaufman to discuss your estate dispute with one of our experienced estate planning attorneys.
- Advance health care directives (directives to physicians for medical care) and living wills
- Durable financial powers of attorney
- Guardianships and conservatorships
Kaufman, Nichols & Kaufman also handles probate and trust administration. The firm is also available to represent clients in the resolution of contested wills and other estate disputes.
To schedule a consultation about creating, reviewing, or changing your estate plan, please contact Kaufman, Nichols & Kaufman.