Estate Planning & Family Law
My mission is simple -
"Provide clients with a simple, straight forward, yet comprehensive estate plan at an affordable price."
By my estimation (as well as that of most all attorneys with whom I've spoken about the issue), the vast majority of us (80%- 90%) do not need a complex or 'fancy' estate plan. Most of us simply need a comprehensive plan for our potential incapacity... and impending death... that is also designed to keep our estate and our loved ones away from probate and all the pitfalls that come with that process - cost, time, open to the public, subject to creditors, etc. By avoiding the 'complex' needs of the minority and serving the relatively 'simple' needs of the majority, I am able to keep my overhead down... and my fees, as it is the more complex estate planning that tends to drive up an attorney's overhead and, thus, his fees.
How do you know if your estate planning needs are simple or complex?
There are many factors that enter into this analysis. The two main ones, however, are tax issues and 'control' issues.
As to the former, the current federal estate tax (or sometimes referred to as the death tax or inheritance tax) exemption is $11.4 million for an individual. If you are married, you can double that amount. Thus, a married couple can leave up to $22.8 million dollars to their children (or other designated beneficiaries) without incurring any federal estate tax. And, the State of Arkansas does not have an estate tax. Although the estate tax exemption amount changes periodically, it has been relatively high (in the millions) for years and affects relatively few of us. In my opinion, for those who are fortunate enough to have an estate tax issue, a bona fide tax attorney is needed.
Regarding the latter, control issues can present in many different ways. The most common scenario I see, however, is with married (or non-traditional) couples, where the first spouse (or partner) to pass wants to control the surviving spouse. I see this situation most often with second (or third) marriages where there are adult children on both sides. The spouse who passes away first wants to 'control' the surviving spouse to insure that he/she does not disinherit the deceased spouse's children. The other common scenario I see is a marriage wherein one party at the outset of the marriage has a relatively large estate and the other party has a relatively smaller estate, and the spouse with the larger estate wants to control what comes of his/her estate if he/she passes before the other. Both scenarios present legitmate control issues, and there are estate planning mechanisms (A/B Trusts, QTIP Trusts, etc.) designed specifically to address those issues. If, after a free consultation, it is determined that a prospective client requires such planning, I simply refer that person to an estate planner who prepares plans designed to address those more complex issues.
Know, on the front end, what your total fees/costs will be!
Lastly, all of my clients are billed a one-time flat fee for services... a fee which is quoted to them after a free consultation. And, more particularly, all of my clients are free to contact me at any time in the future with questions about their plan... or matters related thereto... at no additional fee. I've found that my clients very much appreciate this aspect of my practice, as estate plans tend to generate questions for clients down the road, and clients tend to feel a bit 'setup' and resentful when they receive additional bills down the road from their attorney for simply asking questions or requesting some guidance in regard to their estate plan.
Schedule a FREE consult.
For more information, I invite you to take a moment to fill out the quick contact form (click here) with a brief description of your needs or call my office at (870) 424-6337 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a free consultation.
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As an attorney, I pride myself in cultivating great client relationships. I know that confidence in the advice, service, and documents you recieve is not only important, it is key to the overall outcome and success of an often times stressful situation. If you'd like to learn more about my services, please fill out this quick contact form to schedule your free initial consultation.