At the Kreitler Law Firm, we are committed to assisting our clients in regard to transferring their wealth and protecting that wealth for the benefit of their beneficiaries. Oftentimes, this is called “estate planning”. However, most clients when they think of the estate planning process think merely only of their death and the immediate transfer of assets to their beneficiaries.
However, the Kreitler Law Firm takes a different approach to estate planning. First, we believe that estate planning is better termed as “wealth transfer and wealth protection”. The reason for this is that during your lifetime, there may be a need for your wealth to be transferred to your beneficiaries in a responsible and tax-efficient manner, and for your wealth and assets to be protected. There are many parties who would want to take hold of your assets, and a well-structured and appropriate plan will protect against that.
Second, we believe that assets should not be just given outright or immediately to beneficiaries without taking into consideration whether a particular beneficiary has a lawsuit against them, is going through a divorce, has a bankruptcy issue, or has a collection effort being taken against them. A trust or other estate planning document that just leaves assets outright to beneficiaries provides absolutely no protection for the beneficiary, and risks your wealth being transferred to creditors, divorcing or disgruntled spouse, or a judgment creditor. Therefore, the Kreitler Law Firm makes a point to advise clients on protecting their assets that they leave to beneficiaries.
Finally, any “estate planning” process should take into account the client's incapacity. What happens to the assets or who manages the assets when the client is incapacitated? What if there's a business involved or significant real estate holdings? These questions require serious consideration, and we assist our clients in working through these issues.
The Kreitler Law Firm also offers an estate plan maintenance program for their clients, where an annual meeting is held with a lawyer at the firm to go over new matters and to talk about issues as they develop. This is just one way in which the Kreitler Law Firm seeks to keep and maintain a long-term relationship with our clients.
With respect to trusts, there are two types of trusts, generally, a revocable trust and an irrevocable trust. Irrevocable trusts are utilized to protect assets for beneficiaries when assets are given to them now, while the person who set up the trust is still alive. If a revocable trust is set up and then the person who set up the trust passes away, that trust also becomes irrevocable. Nevertheless, in seeking to protect assets now while giving those assets away to beneficiaries, our clients utilize irrevocable trusts to accomplish these goals to provide asset protection. Sometimes, and with the right decisions being made by our clients, our clients can protect their own assets by setting them into an irrevocable trust. The Kreitler Law Firm also assists in estate tax planning, utilizing irrevocable trusts and other gifting options to reduce estate taxes for our clients. Many technical and complex decisions must be made in regard to establishing these types of trusts, and the Kreitler Law Firm and our staff are available and able to help work through these decisions and issues.