What Plans Can I Make for My Pets?
While you cannot leave property to pets, you can still plan for their care after you’re gone. Estate planning allows you to choose who the pet goes to (individual or organization) and can allocate resources for their care.
Can I Sell My Home if I’ve Put It in A Trust?
Absolutely. Typically, the person who creates the Trust is the Primary Trustee, meaning they have access to manage assets held within that trust. In the event the Primary Trustee has passed, the Successor Trustee (or back-up Trustee) assumes this responsibility and can sell the home.
What Is My Estate?
An estate includes anything owned by an individual. An estate can include real estate, bank accounts, stocks/bonds, life insurance, personal belongings (car, jewelry, furniture), digital assets (social media accounts), legal rights (part or whole ownership of a company, author of a book, etc.) and any other property.
What Happens When Someone Dies Without A Will or Trust?
If someone dies without a Will, it is called dying “intestate.” When someone dies intestate, the state in which that individual resided is responsible for determining how remaining assets and property are to be distributed. The laws outlining distribution vary greatly from state to state.
What is Estate Planning?
Estate planning is the process of planning the transfer of assets/property after your death and potentially planning for incapacity. Comprehensive estate planning, such as the creation of a Will or a Trust, outlines additional components such as guardianship of minors and who can make financial decisions (Power of Attorney) and healthcare decisions (Advance Health Care Directive) on your behalf in the event you are incapacitated or have passed.
What Is an Advance Healthcare Directive?
An Advance Health Care Directive does two primary things. First, an Advance Healthcare Directive allows you to outline your healthcare wishes including things like donation of organs, choices to prolong or not to prolong life if in a persistent vegetative state, options of conducting an autopsy, etc. Second, an Advance Health Care Directive lets you name another individual to act on your behalf to convey your wishes and make decisions if you become unable to make medical decisions for yourself.
What Is a Power of Attorney?
A Power of Attorney (also known as a Durable Power of Attorney) appoints another individual to act on your behalf to handle your finances in the event you are unable to do so. The individual has a legal responsibility to use your assets for your benefit and does so based on guidelines that you outline.
What Are the Benefits of A Trust?
Avoids probate court
Estate specifics (ownership, net worth, etc.) remain private
Assets are more quickly disbursed to beneficiaries
Allows additional control over when/how assets can be used
Can select guardianship and allocate funds for the care of pets
Can be established to protect assets beneficiaries receive from being available to creditors
Allows Trustee easy access to your assets to take care of you during periods of incapacity
What Is the Difference Between a Will and A Revocable Living Trust?
Wills: Wills are one of the basic ways to plan for your estate. A Will allows you to designate responsible parties and plans of action upon your passing, including who receives your assets. In addition, a Will can establish who should provide care for a minor child through guardianship provisions. Individuals with complex assets may find Wills limiting, especially because property in a Will must go through probate which is costly and time-consuming for beneficiaries. Generally speaking, Wills are appropriate for those who do not own real property and have straightforward distribution plans in mind.
Trusts: One of the most advantageous aspects of Revocable Living Trusts is that they allow one’s estate to avoid probate. Furthermore, a Revocable Living Trust can provide more detailed inheritance planning that can benefit you and your loved ones. For example, a Revocable Living Trust can allow you to postpone distributions to young beneficiaries until they have reached an age of financial maturity. If one owns real property, the Revocable Living Trust is one of the best ways to transfer that property to beneficiaries without the need for probate. Further, we structure our Revocable Living Trust Packages to include guardianship provisions for minor children.
Our Will Packages
Our Trust Packages
Outlines how assets are to be disbursed
Outlines how assets are to be disbursed
Limited terms of asset disbursement
Terms of asset disbursement are wide and can be customized based on age, circumstances, contingencies, etc.
Requires probate process (substantial cost and time before disbursement)
Avoids probate entirely
Filing of Grant Deeds
Establish guardianship for minors (Pour-over Will)
Select agent(s) to make healthcare decisions for you if you are unable to do so (Advance Health Care Directive)
Select agent(s) to make financial decisions for you if you are unable to do so (Durable Power of Attorney)
Is a Will or A Revocable Living Trust Right for Me?
A Will package outlines responsible parties and plans of action for when you pass outlines healthcare directives in the event you are incapacitated and establishes care for a minor child. Upon passing, a Will must go through probate before assets can be disbursed, and the cost for this comes directly from the assets within the Will (total cost is dependent upon assets owned at death and can be upwards of tens of thousands of dollars). Additionally, this process delays any disbursement of funds until probate is completed. If you do not own any real property (i.e. a home, apartment, condo, or vacant lots), are not concerned with the cost of probate or the time it will take to disburse your assets, a Will may be right for you.
A Revocable Living Trust allows one’s estate to avoid probate. Furthermore, a Revocable Living Trust can provide more detailed inheritance planning that can benefit you and your loved ones. For example, a Revocable Living Trust can allow you to postpone distributions to young beneficiaries until they have reached an age of financial maturity. If you own any real property or have assets and want to avoid the cost, time, and stress associated with probate after you pass, a Revocable Living Trust may be right for you.
Can I Do a Will or Trust Myself?
While anyone may legally draft a Will or Revocable Living Trust themselves, it is strongly advised that one seek advice and counsel from an experienced Estate Planning Attorney to ensure that one’s wishes are enacted and memorialized appropriately. There are various complex issues that are inherent in drafting such legal documents, and an experienced Estate Planning Attorney can advise you on best practices for your unique situation and can spot issues and red flags that you may not have considered. All too often, families of loved ones who believe they are prepared with a DIY trust or Will end up facing challenges that could have otherwise been avoided.
What Does Probate Mean?
Probate is the court-supervised process of authenticating a last will and testament and settling a decedent’s estate. To do so, the Will is filed with the court, and a personal representative is appointed. The personal representative is responsible for gathering the decedent’s assets, paying final bills and taxes, and distributing any remaining assets to the decedent’s heirs or beneficiaries. This process is supervised by the Court, can take from six months to over a year to finish, delays distribution of assets, and has substantial costs. The cost of probate is set by statute and is based upon the value of the probate assets owned at death and these costs are usually paid out of the estate and therefore minimizes the ultimate assets distributed to beneficiaries.
Does a Will Allow Me to Avoid Probate?
Unfortunately, no. A Will must still go through probate.