Estate & Business Planning
We at Cripps & Simmons want to be sure we address all of your goals and objectives. We delve into the details to be sure nothing is left out. That’s why we ask clients to provide a comprehensive list of their assets, including everything from checking accounts to vehicles to savings bonds and brokerage accounts, as well as real estate and business interests. We will need to know how each asset is owned, and the approximate current value. This information can be put together by you in a list or spreadsheet, or we can help you pull the information together from your most recent financial statements. Some clients have their financial advisors provide this information to us. We are happy to work with your advisors to obtain the information we need. We will also want to review any relevant business agreements, including operating agreements for limited liability companies and shareholder or buy-sell agreements.
In addition to information about your assets, we will want to review any legal documents you already have in place, such as Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney and Health Care Directives.
For business planning clients, we will need to know information about all potential owners of the business, plans you have for the business such as financing and management, and your future goals. We will talk with you about the appropriate entity to use while considering tax consequences, management structures and characteristics of various forms of ownership.
Probate & Trust Administration
After a loved one passes away, probate can seem like a complex burden. We are available to help clients determine which probate proceeding is best for their specific situation, from small estates to surviving spouse’s rights to full probate decedent estates. The best way to start this process is to come in and visit with our professionals about what assets may need to be included in a probate proceeding, and we will work closely with you to guide you through the appropriate process. Preliminary information that is required is detailed information about what assets the decedent owned, how it was owned by them (i.e., in their own name, in joint names with someone else, in a trust, etc.) and whether or not any beneficiary was named. We will need the original Last Will and Testament and Codicils, if any, and contact information for all heirs and beneficiaries. Additional information will be gathered as we work together to navigate the probate process.
One of the most popular uses for trusts is for the avoidance of probate. We help clients who have been appointed as trustees of a trust to administer the trust in accordance with the terms of the trust and the law. Like the probate proceeding, administration of a trust following the death of the trust settlor/grantor, requires compiling information about the assets that are owned by the trust or are received by the trust via a beneficiary designation. Collecting financial statements, prior tax returns, and obtaining contact information for all beneficiaries and potential creditors is also necessary. Our experienced professionals will provide the legal, accounting and tax preparation services you need to carry out your duties and responsibilities in accordance with your loved one’s wishes.
Getting a letter from the IRS or state taxing authority can, understandably, create a great amount of anxiety. A common reaction to receiving such a letter, is to set it aside, maybe hoping that the problem will go away. Unfortunately, this is normally not the case, and worse, can limit your options in resolving the controversy. In tax matters, certain notices are given with very short allowances for you to file a response or objection, sometimes 30 days, or even less.
If you do not understand what is going on, it is likely best to seek legal advice. At Cripps & Simmons, we can help explain to you why you received the notice, how to take steps to resolve your tax controversy, and what your options will be in doing so.
If you would like to visit with one of our attorneys about your tax controversy, the first step will be to contact our office and schedule an appointment. When you come to your appointment, you should bring copies of any notices that you have received from any taxing authority, any returns that have been prepared or filed for the applicable tax period or year, or if returns have not been filed yet, information and supporting documents, such as W-2’s, 1099’s, K-1’s and proof of expenses, deductions and any payments that have been made on your behalf. With this information, we can help determine whether the amounts claimed as being due are appropriate, and explain your options in moving forward either getting the amount corrected, or coming up with a payment plan that works for you and the taxing authority.
For clients who want to discuss elder law issues such as long term care planning or eligibility for various assistance programs, it is important that we have comprehensive information about your assets, as well as complete information about your monthly income and expenses. We will need to know what programs you may already be participating in, and applications you may have submitted. We will also want to review any legal documents, such as powers of attorney and health care directives.
Guardianship & Conservatorship
If you think you may need to obtain a guardianship and/or conservatorship for another individual, our first meeting will include a review of the situation, including a discussion about the individual’s medical history, current living arrangements and reasons you believe a guardianship and/or conservatorship is needed. Information that is required includes contact information for the individual’s physician, his or her family members, and others who may have knowledge of the circumstances, such as social workers or friends. We will also need to know about assets that the person owns, what his or her sources of income are, as well as if he or she has any powers of attorney in place or is a beneficiary of any trust. We also need to know if he or she receives any public assistance benefits, or is a veteran of the US military.
At our initial meeting, we will explain the guardianship and conservatorship process including the filing of court pleadings and the court proceedings. We know that this can be a very stressful time and we do our best to keep clients advised of what they may be able to expect.