ESTATE PLANNING

Estate planning is not just for the wealthy. It makes no difference how large or small one’s estate is, we believe the worst thing one can do is fail to plan for the distribution of their estate upon their death or fail to plan for their disability. Without an estate plan in place, your assets will be distributed according to state law. Without a disability plan in place, an expensive court supervised conservatorship may be necessary to manage your affairs if you become disabled or incompetent. Failure to have a complete estate plan in place also leaves the door open for confusion and hurt feelings by other family members after a death. Proper estate planning is a caring gift left to one’s family. A good estate plan will maximize assets left to the family and minimize taxes and probate costs. Hathorn Law Office has helped many clients achieve their estate planning goals using a carefully planned Will or Living Trust, Health Care Directive and Durable Power of Attorney along with other legal documents needed to help clients preserve their assets and distribute their estate according to their wishes.

An estate plan is developed around a client’s existing personal and financial situation. Since our lives rarely remain constant, there is often a need to update and revise our estate plans when major changes take place in our lives. These changes include financial changes, a change in health, a death or divorce in the family, the birth of a child or grandchild, a change in the tax laws and many other events. Recognizing this need, Hathorn Law Office keeps in touch with clients to periodically review their estate plans and insure everything is kept up to date and the client’s goals are accomplished. Hathorn Law Office recommends that clients review their estate plans at least once every three years and discuss with us possible changes to their estate plan. This discussion, as well as periodic telephone discussions about a client’s estate matters, is provided to the client free of charge. The client is only charged for preparing the actual estate plan and estate plan documents and when actual changes are made to the estate plan.

Every estate plan should begin with a carefully drafted Will or Trust and should include a comprehensive Durable Power of Attorney and Advance Health Care Directive. We recommend that clients consider a Living Trust to avoid the expense, delay and publicity of probate. For clients with large estates, we may recommend a gifting program or specialized trusts to preserve wealth in the family and minimize estate taxes.

We are often asked about the difference between a Will and a Living Trust and the advantages or disadvantages of these estate planning methods. The most common estate planning tool is a Last Will and Testament. Your Will does not become effective until your death, so in order to carry out the terms of your Will, it has to be admitted to probate in the Chancery Court. Probate is a time consuming and expensive process carried out under the supervision of the court. The probate process can take months or even years to complete, and your family may be deprived of the benefits of your estate until the process is completed. In addition to your family spending money for court costs and legal fees, court proceedings are a matter of public record so your personal business is open for public inspection when your Will is probated.

A Revocable Living Trust is an excellent estate planning tool for estates under the federal estate tax exemption amount. The private Living Trust allows you to maintain complete ownership and control of your assets during your lifetime. The advantage of having a properly established and funded Living Trust is that, at your death, your family will not need to probate your estate through court. Your family will save time and the expenses of court costs and legal fees, and your personal business will remain private and confidential. Your assets can be transferred to your family almost immediately at your death so your family will not suffer the delay of months or years before having the benefits of your estate.

Whether you need a Will or a Living Trust depends primarily on your personal situation and your estate planning goals. We will be happy to discuss all of your estate planning needs with you and advise you on the best method for you and your family.

Our Estate Planning practice includes the following areas of law:

  • Wills
  • Revocable Living Trusts for Married Couples and Single Persons
  • Property and Asset Transfers into Revocable Living Trusts
  • Estate Tax Planning
  • Gift Tax
  • Generation Skipping Tax
  • Property Ownership
  • Business Ownership and Succession
  • Durable Power of Attorney
  • Advance Health Care Directive
  • Trusts for Minors
  • Life Insurance Trust
  • Charitable Remainder Trust
  • Charitable Remainder Annuity Trust (CRAT)
  • Charitable Remainder Unitrust (CRUT)
  • Qualified Terminable Interest in Property Trust (QTIP)
  • Grantor Retained Annuity Trust
  • Qualified Personal Residence Trust
  • Crummey Trust

ASSET PROTECTION

Hathorn Law Office believes that clients who work hard to build personal wealth should be able to protect that wealth from the risks of living in a litigious society. Small business owners are often just one lawsuit away from personal bankruptcy. At Hathorn Law Office, we help our clients shield their personal assets and limit their liability from lawsuits using asset protecting trusts, corporations, limited liability companies and partnerships.

Our Asset Protection practice includes the following areas of law:

  • Limited Liability Company (LLC)
  • Incorporation
  • Partnerships
  • Limited Partnerships
  • Family Limited Partnerships
  • Asset Protection Trusts
  • Pre-Nuptial Agreements
  • Post-Nuptial Agreements

ELDER LAW

Our senior citizens face unique challenges in their estate, disability and long term care planning. Hugh Hathorn is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Inc. and is dedicated to helping his senior citizen clients with the legal issues they face every day. From long term care planning to nursing home abuse and neglect, Hathorn Law Office is an advocate for our senior citizens.

Our Elder Law practice includes the following areas of law:

  • Estate and Disability Planning
  • Long Term Care Planning
  • Medicaid Eligibility Planning
  • Medicaid Applications
  • Medicaid Appeals and Hearings
  • Income Trust
  • Special Needs Trust
  • Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
  • Financial Abuse of the Elderly
  • Grandparents’ Visitation Rights
  • Gifts to Grandchildren

PROBATE AND TRUST ADMINISTRATION

Hathorn Law Office has 39 years experience in probating estates through the courts and in administering various types of trusts. We have handled cases involving estates and trusts from the Chancery Court to the Mississippi Supreme Court. While we advise our clients on ways to avoid probate, we have the expertise to successfully handle estate matters in court.

Our Probate and Trust Administration Practice includes the following areas of law:

  • Probate of Last Will & Testament
  • Intestate Estate Administration
  • Will Contests
  • Determination of Heirs
  • Trust Administration
  • Court Proceedings
  • Trustee’s Powers
  • Fiduciary Obligations
  • Beneficiary Rights
  • Accountings
  • Dissolution

GUARDIANSHIP AND CONSERVATORSHIP

Acting as a guardian of a minor or as the conservator of an adult places one in a fiduciary relationship that requires strict compliance with state laws relating to guardians and conservators. Hathorn Law Office has a wealth of experience in these matters and will insure that the rights and the assets of the ward are protected.

Our Guardianship and Conservatorship practice includes the following areas of law:

  • Establishment of the Guardianship and Conservatorship Estate
  • Appointment of the Guardian or Conservator
  • Court Proceedings
  • Asset Inventory and Appraisal
  • Accountings
  • Support and Maintenance of the Ward
  • Minor’s Settlements

REAL PROPERTY LAW

Our 39 years experience in real estate and property law makes Hathorn Law Office the choice of real estate professionals. Our staff is highly trained in handling residential and commercial real estate transactions. We have developed special working relationships with other real estate professionals who can assist our clients in the acquisition and sale of property and timber and obtaining appraisals and surveys. We have assisted clients in the development of planned residential areas, commercial shopping centers and industrial sites. We know that closing the deal is the goal and that diligence and perfection are required. We work hard to meet our clients’ expectations and deadlines.

Our Real Property Law practice includes the following areas of law:

  • Acquisition and Sale of Real Property and Timber Rights
  • Deeds, Options and Contracts
  • Real Property Title Searches
  • Curing Defective Property Titles
  • Title Insurance
  • Residential and Commercial Loan Closings
  • Residential and Commercial Leases
  • Permits, Variances and Zoning Matters
  • Boundary Disputes and Easements

MEDIATION

Hugh Hathorn is a skilled mediator and has participated in numerous mediation sessions both as an attorney and as a mediator. He has completed advanced courses in mediation training and is a member of the panel of mediators approved by the Mississippi Bar. Mr. Hathorn is recognized by attorneys and litigants as a proactive mediator who assists the parties in reaching a fair settlement and resolution of their case outside the courtroom. Mr. Hathorn practices as a mediator in a wide range of matters including personal injury and accident cases; professional malpractice cases; insurance claims; construction and environmental issues; employer/employee/workplace disputes; school/teacher/student disputes; real property issues and boundary disputes; and domestic and family law cases. Mr. Hathorn's skills as a mediator may help you resolve your case out of court. Please call our office for more information on our mediation practice.