Estate Planning Services

S.D. Merritt & Associates helps achieve clients' goals through use of the planning techniques outlined below. Recommendations are made based on the particular needs of each client, and are coordinated to minimize income tax, gift tax, estate tax and generation-skipping tax implications.

Wealth Transfer Planning

S.D. Merritt & Associates uses the following vehicles to help clients transfer their assets to those persons they wish to benefit, in the time and manner they wish, and with the least possible taxes.

  • Wills
  • Revocable ("Living") Trusts
  • Life Insurance Trusts
  • Family Limited Partnerships
  • Grantor Retained Income, Annuity and Unitrusts (GRITS, GRATS and GRUTS)
  • Irrevocable Trusts
  • Generation-Skipping Trusts
  • Preparation of Federal Gift Tax Returns
  • Beneficiary Designations for Retirement Accounts and Life Insurance

Post-Mortem Planning

Certain elections, disclaimers, and other techniques can be used to alter a plan after someone's death in order to save taxes or for other valid reasons. Many of these decisions must be made within a limited period of time so it is important that legal counsel be sought as soon as possible after death.

Lifetime Planning For Incapacity

Planning for incapacity includes using powers of attorney and trusts to help clients plan for the management of their assets and health care in the event the client becomes incapacitated. This avoids the necessity of costly court proceedings in these situations. Such planning includes the following documents:

  • Financial Powers of Attorney
  • Medical Powers of Attorney
  • Living Wills
  • HIPAA Authorzation Forms

Planning for Children

Planning for children includes designating persons to take care of the children in the event of the client's incapacity or death as well as setting up vehicles to manage assets passing to children in order to avoid costly court proceedings for conservatorships and guardianships.

  • Guardian Designations
  • Section 529 Tuition Plans
  • Custodial Accounts under Transfer to Minors Act
  • Trusts

Charitable Planning

If you are charitably inclined, charitable planning can help achieve your charitable goals and at the same time achieve both income and estate tax savings. The following are some of the techniques used for this purpose:

  • Lifetime and Testamentary Gifts
  • Family Foundations
  • Charitable Lead Trusts
  • Charitable Remainder Trusts

Probate and Estate and Trust Administration

The firm represents clients acting as executors, estate administrators, and trustees. We advise such clients of their responsibililities and prepare court filings and estate tax returns and assist with the administration and distribution of the estate or trust.

  • Probate Proceedings
  • Estate and Trust Administration
  • Preparation of Federal Estate Tax Returns

Click here for Shelly D. Merritt's Estate Planning Questionnaire

Photo Courtesy of Scott Mahone