Wills and Trusts
A will is a document that details how your personal property or estate will be distributed at the time of your death. Without proper estate planning, including a clear, executed will, everything you worked so hard for during your lifetime will be left to the state to determine what happens to it.
In the state of Alabama, a person making a will must be at least 18 years of age, of sound mind and free from improper influences in order for a will to be considered valid. The courts also require that the will be written, signed and witnessed by two other people.
Christian & Small estate planning attorneys have helped hundreds of individuals and business clients not only prepare wills that will stand up in probate court, but devise overall estate strategies that will capitalize on any available tax credits, and minimize tax liabilities. Once we work with clients to draft these plans, we review them on a regular basis to see if changes need to be made to complement the client’s wealth transfer goals or to reflect current legislation regarding estate and gift taxation.
In addition to providing comprehensive services for individual clients, we plan for the operation, succession and disposition of family-owned or closely-held businesses. We also prepare health care directives like living wills and durable powers of attorney.
Life is filled with unknowns. To anticipate the unexpected or inevitable life events, it makes sense to define your goals for the future and plan ahead. For many individuals, trusts offer ways to preserve wealth and ensure that their wishes for themselves and their loved ones will be carried out in the uncertain future.
The trusts and estates attorneys of Christian & Small help individuals and their families with the formation and administration of living and testamentary trusts. Depending on your goals, we can work with you to design a trusts and estate plan that makes sense for you and your interests. Some of the different types of trusts that we have established on behalf of our clients are:
- Charitable trusts
- Generation skipping trusts
- Life insurance trusts
- Credit shelter trusts
- Qualified domestic trusts
We have experience developing creative wealth transfer techniques and designing income, estate and gift tax plans that benefit you and the organizations or causes that matter most to you. Our trusts and estates lawyers manage all aspects of estate plan administration and regularly work with exempt organizations and foundations. We also provide assistance to individuals charged with the care of incompetents, disabled and protected persons through the creation of powers of attorneys, specialized trusts and conservatorships.
Probate is the legal process of administering the estate of someone who has died. This process is expedited when the deceased has left behind a properly executed written will, so that his or her wishes are clearly defined. But each year thousands of people die without a will, or intestate. That means it’s up to the decedent’s family, friends or the courts to pay creditors and distribute any assets of the estate.
The estate planning and probate attorneys at Christian & Small help individuals and their families understand the probate laws in Alabama or in the county where the decedent lived. We guide you through each step of the probate process – from filing the petition, to taking inventory of the estate, to publishing notices to all heirs and claimants, and to final court disposition of the estate.
We have managed routine, uncontested probate matters and we have handled complex probate administration where heirs and property were located outside the state. with Our attorneys have successfully litigated numerous probate disputes challenging the legality of wills and trust instruments. Our litigation practice also extends to the representation of financial institutions and professionals in claims arising out of their duties as trustees or estate administrators.
Elder Law Services
More than 77 million Americans will retire over the next 30 years. Baby Boomers are the largest generation in history. As they age and retire, health care and retirement systems will feel the strain. You may relieve your children and family of many of the problems that may be encountered in managing your financial and personal affairs by planning that incorporates financial, trust, estate, tax, health and long-term care arrangements.
Our attorneys are knowledgeable and experienced in guiding clients through the maze of factors affecting elder care. We routinely help clients with:
- Special Needs Trusts
- Disability Planning
- Estate Planning
- Gifts to Children/Grandchildren
- Health Care Decisions
- Long-Term Care Planning
- Nursing Home Issues
- Retirement Living
- Retirement Planning
- Inheritance Planning