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Creating an Estate Plan With Your Children In Mind

If you have any assets, property or important belongings, regardless of worth, it’s important to have an estate plan in place. An estate plan will allow you to arrange for the future of your belongings and your loved ones, which can give you peace of mind throughout your life. This is especially true after having children, because you will want to ensure that your children are taken care of in case something were to happen to you. When creating an estate plan to include your minor child or children, there are some significant things to consider.

 

Choosing a Caretaker For Your Children

Perhaps the most important aspect of an estate plan when you have minor children is legally appointing a caretaker for your children if you were to pass. Though this can be a difficult scenario to fathom, it is important to plan accordingly. Otherwise, if a tragedy were to occur, your family will be left deciding how best to care for your child. This could result in family feuds, custody battles or your child being left in the hands of the wrong person. In the case that both you and the other parent passed without appointing a caretaker, the state may take control over what happens to your child.

 

Having a legally appointed caretaker can ensure safety and security for your child. When choosing someone, it’s important to make the decision with the other parent. You will also need to talk to the person you wish to appoint as caretaker, so that you can ensure they are okay and capable of the potential responsibility. Properly planning this early on allows you to discuss your wishes with the appointed caretaker, as well as with the rest of the child’s family.

 

How Your Assets Will be Managed

You will likely wish to leave at least some major portion of your estate to your children. If they are minor, then you should create a trust where the money will go until the child is of the appropriate age. It is also vital that you name someone who can manage any assets or property until you child is old enough to receive them. You are able to include stipulations with these assets, for example by allowing money to be used toward your child’s education. If you fail to properly allocate parts of your estate to your child, then the state will be in charge of the assets. In such case, the court must be petitioned whenever funds are needed, which can be a long, difficult process.

 

When Your Children Will Receive Their Inheritance

You are generally able to decide when your child will receive their inheritance. This is a personal decision, but one that requires some thought. Some parents decide 18 is an appropriate age to receive an inheritance, but others believe that it’s best to wait until the child is 21. It may even be appropriate to choose an earlier or older age, such as when they marry, depending on your preference and the circumstances. It’s important to consider factors, such as when they may need the money most, or when you think they will be responsible enough to properly manage the money.  

 

With such significant and impactful decisions to make, it can be helpful to seek legal guidance from an experienced attorney. An estate planning attorney in Sacramento CA can help you determine how best to manage your estate based on your situation and children. In addition, they can help you properly establish necessary trusts, accounts and documentation regarding the future of your estate.

 

Contact Yee Law Group if you’d like to begin your estate planning process, either by filling out a contact form, or calling our office at 916-927-9001 for a free consultation.

Starting a Business: What Research Should I Do?

 

You will want to begin with selecting what type of business you would like to run. Try to consider what its effects will be on your taxes and liability.

  1. Often, a simple and beneficial option would be for you to be the only business owner through sole proprietorship. By becoming a sole proprietor, you are basically registering your business for legal and tax purposes, and this means that you will also keep all of your profits after taxes but be held liable for any damages or losses. You could also set your business up as a LLC, or limited liability company. This can hold you less liable for any losses or damages than if you were to become a sole proprietor. If you are starting the business with a partner, consider a general partnership because it provides a basic entity. If you do not want your partner to have liability or limit his or her liability, you can always give them limited partnership. Determining how to structure your business can be complicated, and it is often in your best interest to seek the advice and counsel of an experienced business contracts and structure lawyer. 
  2. Before starting a business, you should always do your research on your competition. It is crucial that you know exactly who your top competitors are in the area. Research how they conduct their business and what you can learn from their failures and successes as a business. You can do this by talking to customers and employees within the business, or visit some conferences that they are attending and speak with them directly (but do not give away the information that you are beginning the same kind of business).
  3. Choose your company name and do research to understand your demographic better. Knowing your target audience will give you leverage over many similar businesses. Understanding who you are selling to is vital to a successful company because without it, your product will not sell.
  4. Review market research like business and legal reports. This will help you to prepare a business plan that will help you make more money. A business plan is essentially a roadmap that will lead you to success. It will include your budget, your projected growth, your plans on how you will generate your revenue, and will outline what your company brings to the table for investors. How your company’s business plan will look depends on your industry, so reviewing other business and legal reports will help you shape your plan in a more attractive manner.

Thanks to friends and contributors from Simba Information for their additional insight into business and legal reports.

 

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Top 10 Common Estate Planning Mistakes To Avoid

You don’t have to be extremely wealthy to plan your estate. It is a common misconception that only wealthy and famous people must go through this process before they pass, but you should as well if you have any items of value like your bank account, car or home. Having an estate plan can benefit you by handling your assets and possibly increasing the profitability of your estate as well. It is always best to consult a professional when dealing with legal matters. Since it is difficult to avoid errors if you are planning your estate by yourself, here is a list of common mistakes to avoid.

  1. No Estate Plan

This is the number one mistake you can make! Setting up an estate plan before your passing can ensure your assets are properly distributed to your heirs and that there is no confusion regarding your final wishes.

  1. Procrastinating

You don’t want to wait too long to plan your estate. Meet with an estate planning lawyer Sacramento CA trusts as soon as possible.

  1. Naming Heirs on the Deed to Your House

This is actually a bad idea. If you put your child’s name on the deed of your home, you are actually saddling them with many taxes. Some states include gifts over a certain monetary amount is included in estate taxes. The help of a professional estate planner will help you leave your plan with minimal estate taxes.

  1. Choosing the Incorrect Person to Handle Your Affairs

A death in the family can make it hard on every member involved, particularly your immediate family. It seems only right that your spouse or eldest child will handle your affairs when you pass, but they may be too grief-stricken to take on the task. A member of the family or trusted friend that is a bit more distant could be a more fitting trustee, if only to give your family some room to grieve.

  1. Not Referring to a Tax Professional

You can avoid making this mistake by simply scheduling a consultation with a tax attorney while planning your estate. They can help you navigate the difficult world of taxes by providing you with systems to meet your estate’s needs without leaving behind a financial mess for your heirs.  

  1. Not Making Use of a Spouse’s Federal Exemption

If you are married, you may take advantage of a federal exemption of $675,000 to save on estate taxes. If your spouse dies, a small part of an estate will be put into an exemption trust, or credit shelter trust.

  1. Not Making Gifts

Making gifts is a great way to reduce your estate taxes. Not many people take advantage of this exception although it is quite useful. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows each spouse to gift an amount up to $14,000 per year that can be deducted from their estate tax.

  1. Not Updating Your Will When Necessary

A good time to revise your will is any time a major milestone or significant event happens. A birth, a death, divorce, the acquisition of property or money are all events that qualify. Things can change and you may want to add or remove someone from your will depending on the event.

  1. Not Transferring Your Life Insurance Policies to a Life Insurance Trust

After you pass on, your life insurance policy is affected by an estate tax. This means that part of your money goes to the government rather than to your heirs or beneficiaries. If you create a life insurance trust, you can avoid an estate tax and prevent your family from waiting too long for the insurance payout.

  1. Not Planning for Disabilities

A monumental change that can occur is a long-term injury resulting in disability. This scenario could be detrimental to your finances and family should you become incapacitated and require serious medical treatment. You should designate a caretaker for your children, decide what to do about finances and also choose someone to execute your healthcare wishes if you cannot do so. Establishing a living trust and choosing a power of attorney are important decisions to make BEFORE such a thing happens to you.   

 

Contact Yee Law Group if you’d like to begin your estate planning process, either by filling out a quick form, or calling our office at 916-927-9001 for a free consultation.

Uncomfortable Conversations with your Elderly Parents

With the rush of day-to-day living majority of people often forget to check in with their parents. People assume that their parents have super powers and even though they are aging; they simply do not need our assistance. The era of not discussing personal affairs or financials is upon us and as a society we need to have a duty of checking in with our parents and elders.

A simple visit to your parents weekly or a telephone call to check the quality of your parent’s life can assist in pre-planning for the future. Since the subject is one that people would prefer to brush under the rug or wait until the bottom of the basket collapses we need to educate society on simple ways to ensure that the future of our parents are a successful one.

Seeking the advice of an attorney for pre-planning documents such as Durable Power of Attorney’s, Medical Power of Attorneys, or Declaration of Guardians can assist for not having to rush and file a Guardianship to gain authority to place your parents in an assisted living facility or seeking the medical attention that they may need. You are also able to pre-plan by executing a Directive to Physician or an end of life document so that your loved ones are not faced with making difficult end of life decisions. When you have these documents executed prior to any mental disability or aging disability then you are able to prevent family feuds when family may not agree with your final wishes.

Educating oneself on the signs of Dementia or Alzheimer’s and locating support groups to assist in that education can make managing the health concerns and assist with the uncomfortable conversations with your parents. Signs to look for initially would include the inability to recognize oneself or family, inability communicate, groaning, moaning or grunting. When your parents begin to need help with activities of daily living or lack of control over bowel and bladder then it is up to you to bring this to their attention. They will be more than aware of the need for assistance but the family must come together to make the embarrassment of this issues mute and provide them with comfort and understanding.

When our parents or elders start to have increased memory loss and confusion or begin to have difficulty doing things that have multiple steps like getting dressed or taking medications it is signs that we are approaching legal aspects that a power of attorney can settle these affairs. However, if you do not have these documents in place and your parents or elders are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or Dementia then you will have no other option than to seek Guardianship over your parents through the Courts. The Guardianship process can be a lengthy one and your family members may not agree as to whom should be appointed Guardian of Person or even Guardian of Estate. The costs associated with a Guardianship are higher in retainer price because of the difficult processes you must go through to grant Letters of Guardianship.

Staying in contact with your parents and setting time aside to have these difficult conversations with your parents early on can avoid Court intervention later. As difficult as these conversations may be, they are necessary and it is more beneficial for all parties to seek legal advice from an attorney, like an estate planning lawyer Arlington TX relies on, to assist in pre-planning life documents.

Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC Thanks to our friends and contributors from Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC for their insight into estate planning practice

What are the Responsibilities of an Executor?

When drafting a valid will, a person is required to appoint an executor whose job it is to follow and carry out instructions of the Will after that person’s death. It’s important to choose an executor carefully, because their actions and responsibilities will directly impact your belongings and loved ones after your time of death. The duties of an executor begin with being sworn in and do not end until the entire estate is administered. The duties required of an executor between those times are listed below.

 

  1. Notify Heirs, Creditors and Government Agencies

 

  • An executor is required to notify all heirs that are named as recipients of the decedent’s estate. They must then provide each heir with a copy of the Will.
  • The executor must notify any creditors of the estate through publication, then determine outstanding debts. An estate lawyer can help to negotiate with debtors to reduce the debt balance. Records of all paid debts must be kept.
  • Any government agencies, such as the Social Security Administration, should also be notified of the death.

 

  1. Take Care of Debts, Taxes and Potential Payments

 

  • The executor should determine all bills, debts and taxes that still need to be paid
  • It should also be determined whether there are any paychecks that the decedent was owed.
  • The executor will need to create a bank account to handle all of the mentioned payments that still need to be made.
  • The money will come from the estate

 

  1. Complete an Inventory

 

  • An executor is responsible for locating all assets and items of a person’s estate including personal items and property.
  • All items in the estate should be appraised to determine the value of the estate in its entirety.
  • All bills owed by the estate should be included in the list.
  • The complete inventory should be submitted to the judge for approval.

 

  1. Distribute the Estate

 

  • Once the inventory is approved, the executor can begin distributing the remainder of the estate after taxes and debts have been paid.
  • Each beneficiary should be provided a copy of the Inventory.
  • The proper assets, items or property should be disbursed to the beneficiaries as instructed in the Will.
  • The estate planning attorney must draft receipts for the division of the estate.
  • Beneficiaries are required to sign for the acceptance of their portion of the estate.
  • Once the entire estate has been distributed and all receipts are filed, the Executor can file to close the estate. The estate will officially close 30 days following the file submission.

 

Completing the Duties

 

Serious duties and responsibilities come with being an executor. If the Executor does not complete the necessary requirements in a proper manner, then they may be removed from their duties, or penalized with a lawsuit of fraud or misconduct. Because of the complexities that accompany the job of an executor, some problems can happen unintentionally. To avoid such problems, you should work with an experienced estate planning attorney who can ensure everything is completed properly.

 

 

Thanks to our friends and contributors from Hildebrand Law for their insight into Wills and executors.

 

Trust Law 101: What do I do if I am Named a Trustee of a Trust?

Trusts are becoming more and more prevalent in Estate Planning. There are many types of trusts, all of which are used to achieve different estate or asset planning goals. These include, but are not limited to Revocable Living Trusts, Irrevocable Living Trusts, Asset and Divorce Protection Trusts, Gift Trusts, Retirement Benefit Trusts, and Special Needs Trusts.

People who are involved in dangerous jobs, like construction, may be considering making a trust as a way to ensure control of their assets should an accident happen. A construction accident lawyer Memphis, TN relies on for help can aid in making those decisions. As a result of the rise in popularity of the use of Trusts, more and more people are finding themselves being designated as Trustees.  What is a Trustee of a Trust? The Trustee is the person who is tasked with carrying out the terms of the Trust and protecting and managing the Trust assets.

The most important thing to remember when you step into the role of Trustee is that the Trust assets are not your assets.  Rather, you are safeguarding them for someone else or for a group of other people (i.e., the Grantor (if living) and for the Beneficiaries, who will receive the assets after the Grantor dies).

As a Trustee, you have certain responsibilities.  For example:

  • You must follow the instructions in the trust document.
  • You cannot mix trust assets with your own. You must keep separate checking accounts and investments.
  • You cannot use trust assets for your own benefit (unless the trust authorizes it).
  • You must treat trust Beneficiaries the same; you cannot favor one over another (unless the trust says you can).
  • Trust assets must be invested in a prudent (conservative) manner, in a way that will result in reasonable growth with minimum risk.
  • You are responsible for keeping accurate records, filing tax returns, and reporting to the Beneficiaries as the trust requires.

A Trustee is legally required to act in good faith and perform the duties of the position with care and due diligence. If you’ve been appointed a Trustee, then you are a fiduciary and you must act in the best interest of the trust Beneficiaries. Some examples of failing to fulfill the fiduciary duties could include:

  • Acting in your own self-interest while disregarding the Beneficiaries’ interests;
  • Fraudulently misappropriating money or assets from the trust;
  • Failing to take action or respond to Beneficiaries’ requests;
  • Improper recording of accounting or other financial matters; or
  • Failing to comply with laws and regulations regarding the administration of the trust or estate.

As a wills and trusts attorney Memphis, TN routinely relies on, we recommend that you engage the appropriate professionals to help you carry out your responsibilities as Trustee, especially with accounting and investing.  You will also probably need to consult with an experienced trust attorney from time to time.  However, as Trustee, you are ultimately responsible to the beneficiaries for prudent management of the trust assets.

Please contact us if you need assistance in serving in the role of Trustee or if you have any related questions.

Wiseman Bray PLLCThanks to our friends and contributors at Wiseman Bray PLLC for their insight into wills and trusts.

Estate Planning for Unmarried Couples

Many couples may not be aware that estate planning is even more crucial for unmarried partners then it is for those who are legally married. This is because many states do not recognize common law marriages, and as a result they do not bestow the same benefits upon a surviving partner as they would a surviving spouse. For example, if one part of the unmarried couple passes away with no estate planning in place, the state will enact a “default estate plan” to deal with the deceased’s assets. In most cases, the legal rights to the estate and assets will pass to the closest blood relative, not the partner, no matter how long the unmarried couple was together.

In order to protect themselves and their wishes, unmarried couples should consider the following estate planning:

  1. Create Wills

In drawing up a will, you can name your partner as beneficiary of your estate. Your partner will be the first person entitled to receive assets for your estate instead of a default blood relative.

  1. Properly Title Real Property

If you and your partner own real property together, make sure it is titled in a way that ensures “rights of survivorship”. This means that if one of you passes, all rights to the property automatically transfer to the other partner. This helps avoid the probate process.

If only one partner owns the property, consider a revocable transfer-on-death deed. The owner will designate a beneficiary to receive the property upon the owner’s death. These deeds also help avoid probate and, if the couple ever breaks up, the deed can simply be revoked. These areas can get confusing, but an estate planning lawyer Phoenix, AZ citizens trust can help with any questions.

  1. Designate Beneficiaries

Perhaps the easiest way to plan for your estate is to name beneficiaries on all accounts where such a designation is possible. In general, this means that the assets held in that account will pass to the person(s) you name upon your death. Common accounts that allow for beneficiary designation include:

  • Bank Accounts
  • Retirement Plans
  • Life Insurance Policies
  1. Create a Durable Power of Attorney

In the event that you become incapacitated, a durable power of attorney will allow your partner to make financial decisions on your behalf. Without a power of attorney designation, your partner will have no right to do this for you.

  1. Create Healthcare Directives

Unless you are a blood relative or spouse, you may not be able to visit your loved one in the hospital, much less makes decisions on their behalf. Creating a comprehensive set of healthcare directives will avoid this by allowing you to name the person(s) who you want to be able to care for you and make decisions for you. When creating healthcare directives, make sure to include all 3 of the following documents:

  • HIPPA Authorization
  • Healthcare Power of Attorney
  • Living Will

If you and your loved one are interested in creating an estate plan, contact Kamper Estrada, LLP. Our experienced estate planning attorney offers free one-hour consultations.

Kamper Estrada, LLPThanks to our friends and contributors at Kamper Estrada, LLP, for their insight into estate planning.

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Estate Planning For Unmarried Couples

In these modern times, people are redefining what it means to be a family.  Getting married in a traditional sense is no longer a must-have, and many couples are choosing to either get married much later or not at all.  But, in the legal world, there are a couple hoops to jump through if you and your partner decide to remain unmarried and want to make sure you have plans in place in case one of you passes away.  And in California, there is no common law marriage either, so it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been together, in the eyes of the law, you still are not legally bound.  

However, there are legal documents to create and things you can do to make sure you’ve planned ahead for you and your family.

  1. Revocable Living Trust and Wills
    If you have more than $150,000 in real property or assets, you can establish a Revocable Living Trust which will allow you to avoid probate after you die and choose whom you’d like to have your assets.  It gives you a lot of flexibility to name who should manage your estate and assets.  
    If you have less than $150,000, writing a will should be sufficient to settle your estate plan.
  2. Power of Attorney
    This allows you to name a person to manage your finances if you are incapacitated.  You can also name someone to make decisions based on your health care if you are not able to through an advance care directive.  Without these being designated, family can take over and appoint someone else to make these decisions.
    At its worst, hospitals may not allow you to visit each other without these documents.
  3. Naming Beneficiaries
    You may want to name each other as beneficiaries over any insurance policies, retirement accounts, and pensions should anything happen to either of you.  Some of these accounts may have different rules about naming non-family members as beneficiaries, so check with your attorney first.
  4. Property Titles
    If one partner is living in a house that the other partner owns, and they die, it’s possible for their family to kick the other partner out.  You’ll want to properly title the property, whether that be in both your names, or through creating a will or revocable living trust and naming the other person.

Married or unmarried, estate planning is absolutely essential if you are in a serious relationship.  So much can go wrong and without the proper documents, it can be even worse.  Plan for your and each other’s futures and visit a local and experienced estate planning attorney Sacramento CA trusts today.

 

Contact Yee Law Group if you’d like to begin your estate planning process, either by filling out a quick form, or calling our office at 916-927-9001 for a free consultation.

Surgery Mistakes Resulting In Medical Malpractice

Even with all of the modern medical technology available today, physicians inevitably make mistakes. Many are harmless and go unnoticed, while countless others result in serious injury, and even death. The fine line between innocent mistake and medical malpractice can be quite fine. An experienced medical malpractice or personal injury lawyer Brooklyn NY trusts can analyze these cases and determine what legal options may be available to the patient. One serious type of medical malpractice case stems from mistakes made during surgery.

Common Types of Mistakes Occurring During Surgery

Surgery is a complex discipline, so there are innumerable errors that can be made. That said, there are some that are more common than others, and that often lead to claims of medical malpractice.

1. Surgery on the Wrong Site

This occurs more often than one would like to think, and involves a patient being subject to a surgery on the wrong part of the body. An all too common example is the amputation of the wrong limb. Not only is this an irreversible error, but the intended amputation must also still take place after the fact.

2. Unnecessary Surgery or Surgery Performed on the Wrong Patient

Even with all of the measures in place in most healthcare facilities to guard against this, it still happens. A patient might be in the hospital for a routine observation and have his or her appendix removed, only to find out that is an uneccessary surgery. This brings a host of negative consequences and potential complications from the surgery itself, some of them long-lasting and potentially life threatening.

3. Avoidable Infection 

While not all infections within a hospital setting can be avoided, infection that is caused by the use of unsanitary surgical instruments is particularly troubling. There are a great many complications, many of them serious, that can result from an infection. It is also possible that a new disease can be introduced into the body. All of these factors are serious indicators of possible medical malpractice.

4. Failure to Remove Surgical Instruments

The operating room is a busy place with many moving parts. While many hospitals require that all instruments in the room be counted and accounted for before any procedure is considered to be complete, not all do. Even in cases where the requirement is there, there are still many documented incidences of surgical equipment and instruments being left in the body after the surgery. This can lead to serious complications down the road, such as possible infection.

5. Internal Organ Damage

While the vast majority of surgeries go exactly as planned, there are some that result in damage to a neighboring organ. This often results from the organ being perforated or punctured accidentally with a piece of surgical equipment, such as a scalpel. This might be an accident, but it is the type of accident that can lead to a serious medical malpractice suit.

6. Damage to the Nerves

This type of error most commonly occurs when there is a mistake made in the administration of anesthesia. This can lead to long term nerve damage that may be difficult for the patient to recover from.

Mistakes happen, but they are unacceptable in the operating room. Medical malpractice laws are intended to protect patients and hold medical professionals responsible when mistakes are made. When an accident strikes, patients depend on lawyers to help them navigate an increasingly complex medical and legal system in order to ensure that their rights are fully protected.


Thanks to our friends and contributors from Law Offices of Laurence C. Tarowsky for their insight into medical malpractice.

Avoiding Probate: Three Smart Ways To Do So

Though death is inevitable and can greet us unexpectedly, there are certain measures one can take to prepare for our own death or the death of loved ones.

Death is one of the few things that many people are quite uncomfortable talking about. Due to this, it can be a difficult act to prepare for your own death or the death of a loved one. Nevertheless, to ensure things are easier on the ones we love after we pass away, estate planning is necessary. One of the most helpful things you can do for the ones you love after you pass away is preventing your assets from going into probate.

The Probate Process

A legal process in which a person’s assets are distributed amongst their heirs and family members is called probate. If a person has written a will, it is this document that outlines which people receive which assets. For instance, if you own a valuable diamond ring, you may pass that along to your daughter or a special family member. Another example would be if you owned an antique or classic car, and you want your son to receive that. These examples show when probate is a necessary action.

On the contrary, there are some instances where you may avoid probate completely. We discuss three of them here.

Create a Living Trust.

If it is your goal to assign specific assets to specific individuals, but you also would like to avoid probate, it is highly advisable to create a living trust, which is basically an alternative to writing a will. A designated trustee will oversee whatever assets are placed in the trust, and once you pass away, the designated heir to your trust receives a distribution from your trustee.

Joint Tenancy with Rights of Survivorship.

If you decide to own your property with another person as joint ownership, this is another way to avoid probate. Once you pass away, joint tenancy ownership will automatically transfer the property to the other owner. It is not a requirement to be married in order to hold this type of ownership with someone. There are some types of joint tenancy that will not actually transfer your interest to the joint owner automatically, so it is crucial that you speak with an estate planning lawyer about your options. If the incorrect type of ownership is taken, it is possible that your portion of the property would be in probate to make a transfer of ownership after your death.

Named Beneficiaries.

Another option that may ensure you avoid probate is to name beneficiaries for your important assets such as bank accounts and other insurance policies, such as life insurance. WHen you complete these, upon your death, these assets will be payable to the beneficiaries you name. Many people avoid this process, or simply do not take the time set it up, however it is quite simple and easy. Some examples of accounts that are payable upon death are 401K retirement plans, stocks, bonds, IRA accounts, and pension plans. If a beneficiary is not designated for these asset accounts, they will all be probated. To set up a beneficiary for your asset accounts, you can request a payable upon death form from your brokerage or bank.

To discuss other ways to avoid probate and to seek more information, it is highly advisable and recommended that you speak with a trusted and experienced estate planning attorney such as the Scottsdale Estate Planning Attorney locals have trusted for years!

Hildebrand LawA special thanks to our authors at Arizona Estate Planning for their expertise in Probate and Estate Law.