Why do I need an estate plan?
Everyone has an estate, irrespective of its content and size. It consists of all that you legally own. Drafting a well thought out estate plan ensures that your plans for your medical care, guardianship for yourself or your minor children, and management and distribution of your assets will be carried out according to your wishes when that times comes and not left to the State or others to decide. Also, it can serve to minimize the type of family confusion, disputes, and discord that occurs when there are no written instructions about who is in charge, who is to receive what, etc.
What happens if I don’t have a plan?
If you do not have a Power of Attorney or Patient Advocate Designation and you become incapacitated, the probate court will appoint a Guardian to make your medical decisions and appoint a Conservator to handle your financial affairs. If your family members do not agree as to whom should be appointed, the probate court may appoint a stranger. Similarly, if you do not have a Will, the probate court will appoint a Personal Representative and distribute your assets in accordance with your state law, which may not match who you would have wanted or how you would have divided your assets yourself.
What should I consider before I begin making my estate plan?
- Who will be the Personal Representative of your Last Will?
- Who will be the Successor Trustee after you if you draft a
- Who should be the Guardian or Conservator for your minor
- Who will make financial decisions for you if you cannot make
- Who will make healthcare decisions for you if you cannot
make them yourself?
- How you want your end of life medical care handled?
- Do you want to make any anatomical gifts at your death?
- How you want your estate to be distributed at your death?
What’s the difference between having a “Will” and a “Living Trust”?
A last will is a written document that states who you wish to be the guardians for your minor children and how you would like your assets distributed at your death. The last will names a Personal Representative to facilitate the management of your assets during the probate process.
Trusts are a legal documents that allow you to create a separate legal entity to hold your assets. A trustee is named who manages the assets for the benefit of you and your beneficiaries. Revocable Living Trusts are created and funded during your lifetime and you often name yourself as trustee to maintain control of the assets until your death or incapacity. A testamentary trust is created after your death by a provision in your will.
A Living Trust offers protection should you become incapacitated by allowing your successor trustee to manage your assets without interruption. Please note that even with a Revocable Living Trust you should still have a will known as a “pour-over” will. These wills make sure that any assets, which may not be in your Revocable Living Trust at the time of your death, “pour-over” into the trust. Your Trust Package will include all of the necessary estate planning documents including a “pour-over will”.
How will I know whether I only need a “Will” or if I also need a “Revocable Living Trust?”
During your consultation we will discuss the benefits of both. Based on your particular circumstances we can assist you with making the right decision.
If I set up a Living Trust, can I be my own trustee?
Yes. In fact, most people who create Living Trusts act as their own trustee. If you are married, you and your spouse can act as co-trustees. During your life, you will have complete control over all of the assets in your trust. In the event of your incapacity your hand-picked successor trustee assumes control over your affairs.
Is a Living Trust valid in all states? Yes, a Living Trust is valid in all fifty states, plus the District of Columbia
Isn’t a Living Trust only for the rich? No. A Living Trust can help anyone protect his or her family. Any person with an estate large enough to require probate may derive meaningful benefits from a Living Trust. Additionally people with minor or disabled children or who are in second marriages and blended or non-traditional families will benefit from a Revocable Living Trust.
Will a Living Trust save on Estate Taxes?
A living or a testamentary trust may help save on taxes in certain circumstances. The estate and gift tax laws are complex and fluid. Trusts are flexible vehicles that are often used in tax planning. Your individual situation will determine what trust type, if any will help best preserve your assets.
Will a Revocable Living Trust protect my assets should I have to go into a nursing home?
No. Because you maintain complete control over your assets titled in your Living Trust, those assets are considered available for your use should you have to go into a nursing home.
What type of Living Trust do I/we need?
There are a number of different trust types for a married couple; all of which are typified by the result after the first death. The factors which go into determining the correct type of trust are the size of the estate, the tax laws, the underlying ownership of the trust assets and the comfort level the couple has with the degree of control the survivor should have over the trust.
We are not married; can we still have a Joint Living Trust?
You have the option to prepare a Joint Trust along with all of the matching supporting documents for a “Non-traditional Couple”.
My spouse is not a U.S. citizen; are there any special problems?
Yes. A non-citizen surviving spouse can be required to pay substantial estate taxes at the first death if a proper estate plan is not in place. Depending on the size of the estate and the information you provide, it may be necessary to have your Living Trust set up as a “Qualified Domestic Trust” to avoid the payment of any taxes at the first death.
What do I have to do after I create a Living Trust?
You need to make sure that you title appropriate assets in the name of the trust. Once a trust is created and funded, it will continue on until it is revoked or it is distributed pursuant to its terms. IRS Regulations provide that a revocable living trust uses the tax identification number — your Social Security Number — of the Grantor as its identification number and no separate tax returns should be filed for the trust. Instructions on how to transfer or title assets into the name of the trust will be provided.
What should I do if I want to use your services?
Developing an estate plan is a smart and caring act on your part. Whether you use this service or someone else’s you are taking the first step to gaining control of your affairs and your loved ones will be very grateful. This service is designed to make the building of a basic estate plan as easy and economical as possible. Completing the online interview yourself allows you to work at your own pace, ask yourself the important questions and see the plan come together. It also allows you to save on fees because you enter the data yourself. Please follow the instructions below to begin and we will be in contact with you as you proceed and when necessary.
- You will need to complete a Registration Form and then log-in. Information will be sent to you by e-mail so you can proceed;
- You will login to the system and begin the interview process which will take you screen by screen through the context sensitive question and answer process.
- You can save your answers and come back at a later time to finish.
- At the conclusion of the interview, you will have provided all the necessary information to have a custom estate plan prepared for your individual situation.