Estate planning involves counseling individuals and families on all aspects of wealth and property transfer. The primary concern and objective is to achieve the client’s desires for sharing wealth with family, friends and charities, in a way that is as tax-efficient as the client’s desires permit. The objectives may be achieved with a combination of gifts, wills, trusts, insurance and other techniques. A client’s affairs may be managed through living trusts, powers of attorney, and health care directives. Joint ownership, multi-party accounts, and transfer-on-death deeds and directives may be used to facilitate transfers. Beneficiary designations typically govern the disposition of assets in retirement plans and insurance proceeds.

Probate is the process of administering a deceased person’s estate. If property is transferred by will, the probate process is supervised by a court or registrar. Probate typically involves proof of the will, appointment of a personal representative, and submission of inventories and accounts of administration. Any disputes are resolved by the court. Non-probate transfers are not subject to supervision but require compliance with requirements of the governing instrument or law. A federal or state estate tax return may be required if the estate meets filing requirements.

Streater & Murphy, P.A. handles all aspects of estate planning and administration. We help families with modest and large estates and we employ simple and complex techniques. We file gift and estate tax returns and negotiate their audit and acceptance by IRS and state tax authorities. We work with banks and trust companies, and assist family members who serve as fiduciaries.