Elliott Lawson & Minor P.C.'s estate practice consists of three primary areas: estate planning, estate administration and estate litigation.
No matter your age, health or financial situation, you should always have an estate plan. By thoroughly considering your options, you can:
- Protect and preserve your assets after you pass away
- Ensure your wishes will be honored by your heirs after your death
- Simplify the administration of the estate
- Minimize the possibility of litigation over estate planning documents.
A will gives you the control you desire over who gets what when. For some clients, a trust may also be an appropriate estate planning device. In addition, we routinely prepare powers of attorney and advance medical directives for our clients, and consult with them about the appropriateness of other documents.
For small-business owners, an estate plan allows control over both business assets and personal assets. Parents with children can plan for both who would raise those children and how assets would be managed for the benefit of those children in the event of a parent's death.
Additionally, our firm advises clients about the steps necessary to get appointed as guardians or conservators for persons who cannot make their own financial decisions, prior to the death of those persons.
While we are not tax lawyers, we discuss certain tax ramifications of estate planning decisions with our clients, and work closely with CPAs and financial planners to minimize adverse tax consequences to clients while realizing their goals.
Regardless of your precise estate planning needs, you should contact an experienced estate lawyer to guide you through the process. Advertising might make it seem as if drafting a will is a simple activity, but drafting a will which fully addresses all relevant concerns is not simple. Our attorneys have the experience necessary to answer even the most complicated questions and provide advice for contingencies that may be missed through a "do it yourself" estate planning form.
When an individual dies, his or her estate must be administered. Even if the individual dies intestate, or without a will, the estate must still be administered. If the individual had a will, it will generally name the person or persons who will serve as personal representative of the estate. If an individual does not have a will, generally one or more family members will qualify as personal representative of the estate, and we are also experienced with that process.
Elliott Lawson & Minor P.C. routinely assists these persons with matters including:
- Formally opening the estate at courthouses in Virginia and Tennessee
- Qualifying as personal representative
- Analyzing whether a surety bond must be posted, or if such bond will not be required, to save the estate money
- Assisting clients in the filing of required inventories and accountings, and related documents
- Working with CPAs and other financial professionals to ensure that all required tax filings are made.
- Ensuring that all just debts of estates are paid, and distributions properly made to beneficiaries.
We also advise trustees under trusts with respect to similar matters.
In some situations, a will or trust will be contested in court. The two most common bases for challenges are that the decedent lacked the capacity to make a valid will or trust, or that the decedent was unduly influenced by someone.
There are time limitations for challenging a will or trust, and so consulting an experienced estate litigation attorney early is important. In these cases, we can provide skilled representation either for the challenge or defense of a will or trust.