Omaha Estate Planning Attorney
Preparing for Your Future, Today.
Carlson & Burnett has made a name for itself in the area of estate planning. Our attorneys have represented clients in all stages of life and helped them plan for the future. Additionally, we have published and presented widely on evolving issues in this important area of law. We focus on the careful assessment of families' unique financial situations, challenges, and opportunities in order to create plans ideally suited to their needs.
Applying many decades of experience, our firm’s Omaha estate planning lawyers are equally accomplished in drafting basic wills and other essential documents as well as structuring sophisticated plans for those with millions in assets. Attorneys Darren Carlson and Anne Burnett form a cohesive estate planning team with diverse, complementary strengths.
Don’t procrastinate on planning for the future. Call our firm at (402) 810-8611 for a free case evaluation.
The Importance of Estate Planning
According to various sources, more than half of all Americans die without estate planning. When this occurs, a state court must decide who will get the assets and, if the person has any children, who will care for the assets. Although estate planning is most associated with the wealthier class, many financial advisors state most individuals can benefit from it. In fact, many explain that it is better to start earlier rather than later.
How might this become problematic? If an individual dies and survives an unmarried partner or wished to leave their assets with a favorite charity, the court will more than likely pass the assets to the closest blood relatives instead. For this reason, individuals should be sure to list their specific desires in their will should they wish to direct their assets to specific parties in the event of their death.
One of the most overlooked elements of estate planning deals with updating beneficiaries on financial assets, such as:
- Retirement accounts
- 401(k) plans
- Life insurance policies
- Regular bank accounts
Beneficiaries Must Be Updated
Experts explain that as individuals move through different milestones in life, it is important that they change their beneficiaries. One financial planner explains one situation he had with a client who, after divorce, updated his will to exclude his ex-spouse. However, because his beneficiary designations were not updated, his ex-spouse was entitled to his retirement account assets.
What if No Beneficiary is Listed or the Beneficiary Has Already Passed?
In these types of cases, assets automatically go into probate, which is when the assets are used to pay off any debts, and the remainder is distributed to heirs. Each state has laws that govern the amount of time creditors have to make a claim against a descendant’s estate. This timespan usually lies between 6 months to a year.
If I Have a Will Can I Avoid Probate?
Probate is a legal process that proves the Will of a deceased person is valid, so their property can be transferred to the beneficiaries named in the will. So, basically, if you have a Will it must go through probate to transfer the assets. Is probate a bad thing? Most people want to avoid probate to so avoid the pubic courts (i.e. keep the assets and beneficiaries private) and save the added attorney costs associated with probate. This is handled better by a Revocable Trust.
Do all estates have to go through probate? No. How assets are titled and the size of the estate will determine if probate is necessary. Nebraska offers smaller estates a simplified process by "Small Estate Affidavit" to avoid probate when an estate has less than $50,000 of personal property and $30,000 of tax assessed value of the real estate.
Is probate a bad thing? Again, not necessarily. Carlson & Burnett LLP gives this view:If you are younger with a smaller estate, the Will is the way to go and probate will be fairly straight forward. If you are older, and your estate is more complex, you will be better served by using trusts to manage the distribution of your assets upon death. The Will/Probate route is easier on the front end, but more time consuming and complex on the back end when the Will must be enforced. The Trust route is more complex and takes some time on the front end, but at death, the administration is easier.
Basically, it is a trade-off. There will always be a process to handle someone's assets at death. If you want to make it easier for your heirs, you should take control of your estate planning during your lifetime. Titling of assets is also an important part of your estate plan and not understanding the ramifications of certain types of ownership can have disastrous results for your heirs.
Comprehensive Estate Law Services
Whether your foremost concerns involve protection of your loved ones, tax planning, asset protection or other matters, we will present practical options and help you find the optimum solutions.
Our Full-Spectrum Estate Planning, Probate, and Estate administration Practice Covers:
- Preparation of wills, revocable trusts and other customized documents for the transfer of assets
- Preparation of other documents to ensure adherence to your wishes regarding health care and end-of-life decisions, including durable powers of attorney, health care directives and living wills
- Creation of specialized trusts associated with charitable giving, providing for family members with special needs, and other vital objectives
- Structuring of family limited partnerships and other aspects of business succession and business planning
- Drafting of life insurance trusts and development of other strategies to minimize unnecessary estate taxation
- Probate and estate administration services, including trust administration and representation in will contests and other forms of estate litigation
- Detail-focused handling of inheritance tax returns and other estate tax issues
- Formation and administration of public and private foundations
- All aspects of petitions for guardianships and conservatorships and measures to prevent the need for these actions
- Other elder law concerns such as Medicaid planning, Veteran Administration (VA) planning, long-term care planning and other means of achieving asset protection while keeping access to government benefits
Our Legal Team Can Help You with Estate Planning
At Carlson & Burnett, we understand cases involving estate planning and probate can be highly complex and emotionally taxing, and that is why we stand ready to provide you with legal assistance. When you choose to work with our Omaha estate planning lawyers, we will examine every detail of your situation and determine which strategies can best safeguard your future and the futures of your closest loved ones. Remember, it is best to take action sooner than later, so we invite you to call us right away.
When your future is at stake, you need a lawyer you can trust. Turn to the dedicated estate planning advocates at Carlson & Burnett! We are standing by to take your call at (402) 810-8611, or you can fill out our online contact form.