Average Estates

Gary L. Maddux is both a CPA and an attorney who has a Masters in Law degree (LLM) in taxation and estate planning who thoroughly enjoys helping young families, and those with non–taxable estates (less than $5,000,000), through the personalized process of planning his or her estate.

I have assisted new families just starting out with minor children plan and prepare wills and trusts to take care of their children in the event of untimely deaths.  Here, the normal issue is how best to handle life insurance proceeds if both parents die, and who will take care of the children.  I have also assisted middle aged and retired clients determine the best approach to transfer their property to their children or grandchildren after the client is deceased.  I really enjoy helping clients design their personal plan, and then implement that plan by preparing appropriate documents, all for reasonable professional fees.  You will not find a more hands-on appreciative attorney than me.

At our initial conference, we will have a thorough discussion about Wills, Trusts, and other methods to transfer assets at death and then you will decide on the best approach for you to take.  I avoid a one size fits all practice. Most of my clients decide to use Trusts.   Preparing your plan, regardless of how simple it may be, is a very personalized process which must be tailored to meet your specific objectives.

Married Clients.  After the discussion, most married clients with non-taxable estates elect to form a joint Family Trust into which they transfer their family assets.  This structure avoids probate and helps manage their property.  Both spouses are normally the Co-Trustees, and both are normally the primary beneficiaries (minor children are also beneficiaries).  Both spouses then normally name each other as the sole successor Trustee, or if the other cannot serve, they appoint a child or another to serve as the successor Trustee who will then take care of their affairs should both spouses become incompetent or deceased.  But other structures are available which we will discuss.  Not infrequently, a couple will decide that each should form their personal trust, rather than a joint trust, into which each then transfers their personal assets.  Again, one size simply does not fit all.

Obviously, special issues arrise when there are children from a previous marriage.  The approaches taken in these situations vary depending on the circumstances of the marriage and the relationships with the children.

Clients with Deceased Spouses; Single Clients.  Single clients, or those with deceased spouses, will normally form a trust in which they are the sole trustee and the sole beneficiary to avoid probate and to accomplish other objectives.  They then normally appoint a child or another to serve as the successor Trustee to take care of their affairs should the client become incompetent or deceased.  But again, other structures exist.

When using Trusts, in all events, it is important to realize that you will always have complete control until such time, if ever, you are no longer competent.  Then people you select, not the courts, will take over your affairs as a successor trustee.  But that happens onlyafter you are no longer able to act as trustee. Finally, banks will not serve as your trustee unless you decide to appoint a bank as your trustee.  It is always your decision.

Better Creditor Protection Provisions; Protection Against Divorcing Spouses. Regardless of the extent of your holdings, it will probably be important to you to protect the inheritance you are leaving your children from you children’s creditors, claimants, and divorcing spouses.  I have developed approaches which focus on protecting the inheritance you are leaving your heirs from such claimants.  Not all of my clients have decided to adopt these structures.  These better creditor protection provisions add additional complexity.  So clients sometimes decide to take the easiest, most direct approach.  But we will discuss these better creditor protection provisions, and how they give your children additional protection, and then you will decide which course you want to take.

Other Issues. There are at times additional issues to consider.  Do you have a child who has special needs? Perhaps a problem adult child who needs protection from herself? The last thing you will want to do after your death is help fund drug, alcohol, gambling or other abusive lifestyles.  Who will take care of your minor children? Will your parents need additional assistance should you die prematurely? Are you in a second marriage?  If so, what is to happen at your death?  Do you need an estate plan to manage life insurance proceeds until your children are of sufficient age?  Perhaps you will want to adopt an estate plan which will provide education funds for your grandchildren.

There are many other issues and objective you might want to address.  I want to emphasize that I will help you think through your current situation, help you identify your objectives, and then help you design a structure, either with or without trusts, which best accomplishes your objectives. 

Fees.  There is no charge for our first meeting.  Should you decide to proceed, I will provide you a written engagement letter which sets forth the fees you will be charged.  You can then decide if you would like to proceed.

Maddux & Maddux
2642 E. 21 Street, Suite 290
Tulsa, OK 74114
Phone: 918-582-8393
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