Frequently Asked Questions

What is estate planning?

Estate planning is a process in which you create a plan to transfer your assets to heirs with the least amount of difficulty and expense. For us, estate planning also includes taking steps to protect your family from unnecessary taxes, as well as long-term care expenses, creditors, and complications that arise from disability.

Who needs estate planning?

Everyone. Regardless of how much money or property you have, creating an estate plan will ease the burden on those you love after your death. Certainly, everyone with children under the age of 18 needs an estate plan to establish who will raise the children and how they will be provided for. 

What do I need to bring to my first meeting?

Please print and fill out our client information sheet. It is helpful to arrive to your first meeting with a general idea of your assets and where they are located. It is also helpful to have already considered who you might designate to handle your estate, and where or to whom you might like your assets to be distributed. However, we are here to assist you with these questions, so if any of them present a challenge for you, we encourage you to bring that challenge to us.

My estate isn’t large enough to be subject to estate taxes. Why should I be concerned with estate planning?

Minimizing taxes is only one small part of estate planning. In addition to dictating how your property will be distributed, an estate plan typically involves designating people to make financial and healthcare decisions for you, should you become unable to do so for yourself. Making these decisions in advance alleviates stress for your loved ones at a difficult time and eliminates the potential of a costly court action.

I made an estate plan years ago. Do I need to do anything else?

We recommend that you have your estate plan reviewed every three to five years. Many changes can occur in that period of time. Most people who have not reviewed their estate plan recently are surprised to find how out of date it is. Marriage, divorce, births, and deaths in your family are among many changes that necessitate updating your estate plan.

I’m single. Do I need estate planning?

Yes. In fact, since you do not have a spouse to be your heir, it is extremely important for you to take a proactive role in your estate planning.  If you are a single parent of children under 18, you need to name a guardian to raise your children and a trustee to manage the assets passing to your children until they reach an appropriate age.

What is a living trust?

A living trust is a trust arrangement created during your lifetime under which you name a trustee to manage property for a beneficiary. Usually, a living trust is created to be a substitute for a willand you can personally be the trustee and beneficiary while you are living. A living trust is typically revocable and amendable during your lifetime. If kept up to date, the living trust will pass your assets to your family or other beneficiaries without a probate at your death. A properly drafted trust can also reduce or eliminate taxes.

Is a living trust right for me?

We carefully consider a number of factors in determining if a living trust or a will is most appropriate for each client. We work in collaboration with our clients to help them make informed decisions with confidence. 

Will my estate automatically be taxed if I don't have a will?

No.  Because of recent tax law changes, most people do not have an estate that is large enough to incur estate tax.

What is probate?

Probate is a court proceeding to transfer title to assets in the name of the decedent to whoever is entitle to the assets under a will or the laws governing distribution of assets of persons who did not make a will.

Is probate a long and expensive process?

If you have property located in the state of New Mexico, it is likely to be fairly simple. New Mexico has an informal probate procedure that can be inexpensive and is usually completed in a reasonably short period of time. 

Will my estate go through probate if I don't have a will?

The primary reason for a will is to assure that your estate passes to your family with a minimum of expense and difficulty. Whether or not you have a will, probate will be necessary if you have property that is held in your name alone. 

Does your firm handle contested probates?

No. Our favorite part of what we do is helping people through a difficult time and making things easier for them as they grieve and move forward. By its combative nature, litigation runs in contrast to this mission.