Why do I need an estate plan?
A well thought out estate plan ensures that your plans for your medical care, guardianship for minor children, and management and distribution of your assets will be carried out according to your wishes and not left to the state or others to decide.
What happens if I don’t have a plan?
The government's estate plan is called intestacy and your assets will be distributed under state law. These statutes may not match how you would have divided your assets yourself. In addition, the court will appoint guardians for your minor children. The probate court may also appoint someone to make decisions about your medical care if you are unable to do so.
Without a valid plan, many decisions about your estate will have to be approved through the probate court system.
What should I consider before I begin?
What's the difference between having a "Will" and a "Living Trust"?
- Who will be the personal representative of your Last Will
- Who will be your successor trustee
- Who should be the guardian(s) for your minor children
- Who will make financial decisions for you if you cannot make them yourself
- Who will make health care decisions for you if you cannot make them yourself
- How do you want your end of life medical care handled
- How you want your estate to be distributed upon your death
A last will is a written document that states who you wish to be the guardian(s) for your minor children and how you would like your assets distributed upon your death. The last will names a personal representative to facilitate the management of your assets during the probate process.
A trust is a legal construct that allows 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. Trusts are very flexible and there are many different types. The type of trust used is dependent on your specific goals and circumstances.
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 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 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."
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 act as your own trustee of your living trust, you will have complete control over all of the assets in your trust during your life. In the event of your incapacity, your named successor trustee assumes control over your affairs.
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.
What should I do if I want to use your services?
You will 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 assemble a custom estate plan for your individual situation.