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Estate Planning - FAQS

1. Why make an estate plan:

 Everyone has an estate, irrespective of its content and size. It comprises all that you legally own. Drafting a well thought out estate plan ensures that your plans for your medical care, guardianship for you or your minor children, and management and distribution of your assets are carried out according to your wishes when that times comes and not left to the State or others to decide. Also, it can minimize the family confusion, disputes, and discord that occurs when there are no written instructions about who is in charge, who is to receive what, etc.

2. What happens if you don’t have a "durable power of attorney"? 

 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. 

3. What happens if you don't have a "will"?  

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.

4. Things to consider when making your estate plan:

  • Who will be the Personal Representative of your Last Will?
  • Who will be the Successor Trustee after you, if you draft a trust?
  • Who should be the Guardian of a minor child?
  • Who will make financial decisions for you if you cannot make them yourself?
  • Who will make healthcare decisions for you if you cannot make them yourself?
  • How you want end- of-life medical care handled?
  • Do you want to make any anatomical gifts at your death?
  • How you want your estate distributed at your death?

5. What’s the difference between having a “Will” and a “Living Trust”?  

A "Last Will & Testament " 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. It names a Personal Representative to facilitate the management of your assets during the probate process. "Trusts" are 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. 

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.

6. Is a Living Trust valid in all states?  

Yes, a Living Trust is valid in all fifty states, plus the District of Columbia

7. 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.  

8. Does 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.  

9. We are not married; can we still have a Joint Living Trust?   

You have the option to prepare a Joint Trust along with all the matching supporting documents for a “Non-traditional Couple”.

10. My spouse is not a U.S. citizen:  

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.  

11. What to do after creating  a Living Trust?  You need to fund your trust - make sure that you title assets in the trust's name. Once a trust is created and funded, it will continue on until you revoke it or it is distributed under its terms.