Estate planning is not only for the rich or the elite. If you have assets and own property, you have an estate and therefore you need to have a plan! Your estate is what you leave after you pass away. You want to control how it is done, who gets your property, and when.
People who do estate planning want to make sure that their assets are passed on to their loved ones without problems, without high legal fees, and without time delays. Sometimes, people do estate planning to make sure that a particular person, such as a spouse or a child, is protected. Often, someone does planning to make sure that they have enough assets to live on for the rest of their life. An estate planning attorney, at a firm like ours, is your best resource to make this all happen.
A Basic Estate Plan
Basic estate planning includes the use of a will, a comprehensive durable power of attorney, and health care directives, such as POA & Wills. These directives help you avoid the kind of medical treatments that you don’t want, if you are unable to communicate your wishes. Without these decisions, your loved ones will not be able to make decisions on your behalf. As your estate planning attorney, we will work with you to create an estate plan. You do not want to be the next Terry Schiavo.
In modern times, pre-and post nuptial agreements have become an important estate planning tool. It is important to take steps to protect what you have when entering into marriage. Unfortunately, the divorce rate is quite high.
Trusts, both irrevocable and revocable, are another tool that an estate planning attorney can use to help you accomplish the goals and wishes that you have for your money, your property, and most importantly, your family.
Who Should Have a Living Trust?
Most people who set up living trusts do so in order to avoid probate. Is that the right decision for you? In our experience, there are five common situations when it makes sense to have a living trust:
- You own property in multiple states and want to avoid multiple probates which entail additional court costs and legal fees.
- You are thinking of appointing someone to handle your assets after you die, and you want to see how they’ll do, while you are still alive and can make changes to your final plans.
- You are planning on disinheriting a child and you are worried that the child may contest your will. A living trust makes it much more difficult for the child to successfully challenge your expressed desires set forth in the trust.
- You would like to make it easy for your children to settle your estate. Perhaps they live far away or they are very busy with jobs and their own families. Your estate will be settled quicker, probate will be avoided, and assets won’t have to be collected before they can pass out of the trust.
- You want to leave assets to family who are not closely related to you and/or friends. In such a situation, the probate process will typically take longer and cost more. The living trust can make it easier for everyone involved.
If your situation sounds like one of the five above, a living trust may be a very smart move. Talk with an experienced estate planning lawyer on our legal team about your estate plan. We will listen to you and stand ready to provide you with peace of mind. Read much more about this topic at our Probate, Trusts, and Estate Administration page.