Estate Planning

You have worked hard to provide and protect your family over the years, but what will happen after you are gone? A comprehensive estate planning is the most effective way to preserve your estate and provide for your loved ones when you pass away. At Rivers Law, we are not only knowledgeable of the laws and practical aspects of estate planning, probate administration, and trust administration, but we also know the laws governing business organizations, real estate, personal property, and taxes. With our experience in these areas, we can provide practical planning advice from a comprehensive, multifaceted perspective.

An estate plan can relieve your family members from unnecessary burdens later on. Although estate planning may require you to spend some time and legal fees on the frontend, you will be able to spare your family members a tremendous amount of time, effort, and probate fees upon your death or incapacity. Many clients say they feel relieved after they have completed their estate planning.

When it comes to estate planning, most people are familiar with the basic concept of a Last Will and Testament. This document is designed to direct the distribution of the assets of your estate according to your wishes. However, a comprehensive estate plan should address much more than that. A plan should address health care and incapacity issues. It should also specify whom you would like to appoint to serve as your fiduciaries. If you have minor children, one of the most important reasons to have an estate plan is to name the guardian(s) of your minor children. An estate plan should also establish trusts for the benefit of the surviving spouse and children, when appropriate.

We carefully listen to your goals and analyze your assets to formulate an effective estate planning strategy that will meet your needs. By implementing the correct planning techniques, your assets will be transferred in accordance with your wishes, in a tax-efficient manner, and can remain protected after you are gone.

An estate plan may be structured to achieve the following goals:

  • Avoiding probate
  • End-of-life planning
  • Funeral arrangements
  • Asset Protection
  • Trusts for Minors
  • Pet Trusts
  • Education Trusts
  • Coordinating the Beneficiary Designations of Retirement Accounts and Life Insurance Policies
  • Incapacity Planning
  • Supplemental Needs Trusts
  • Business Succession Planning

What is Included in a Typical Estate Plan

Package A

Package B

Everything in Package A plus the following:

Advanced Estate Planning

Our experienced estate planning attorney can assist you and your family with more advanced planning, which may include the following planning techniques:

  • Irrevocable Gifting Trusts
  • Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts ("ILITs")
  • Generation-Skipping Transfer ("GST") Trusts
  • Limited Liability Company ("LLC") and S-Corporation Planning
  • Valuation Discount Planning
  • Sales of Assets to Grantor Trusts
  • Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts ("GRATs")
  • Qualified Personal Residence Trusts ("QPRTs")
  • Charitable Remainder Trusts ("CRTs") and Charitable Lead Trusts ("CLTs")
  • International Planning
  • Planning for U.S. Non-Citizen Spouses (including "QDOTs")

Tax Planning

Many clients prioritize reducing or eliminating estate taxes. For 2024, the estate tax exemption is notably high at $13.61 million per spouse ($27.22 million for a married couple). However, starting January 1, 2026, this exemption is expected to decrease to around $7 million unless new legislation is passed. At Rivers Law, we believe estate taxes should still be a concern for couples with a combined net worth of approximately $5 million. This is because assets may continue to grow and certain planning must be implemented to ensure both spouses' exemptions are used. Additionally, it's important to consider strategies to minimize income taxes on appreciated assets. We will thoroughly explain the various tax considerations and planning options to help you make informed decisions that reduce your family's overall tax burden.

Special Needs Planning

Rivers Law serves families who have a loved one with special needs. We can customize your estate plan so that you may leave assets for the benefit of your special needs child while preserving important public benefits available to him or her. We understand that children who have special needs require additional planning, and we carefully listen to your specific situation and concerns so that we can make recommendations and tailor a plan which will provide for your love one throughout their lifetime.