Estate Planning
Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is Probate?

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    Probate is a court supervised legal process by which a decedent's assets are eventually transferred to their named beneficiaries or heirs. Probate validates the decedent's will, appoints an executor, provides notice and payment to creditors, and distributes the estate to beneficiaries.
  2. What happens in Probate if I do not have a Last Will?

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    In the event that you die without a will, the court will appoint an executor and your assets will be distributed to your closest heirs pursuant to state law. Obviously, the court ordered distribution may be different than what you had intended for your estate.
  3. What are the disadvantages of Probate?

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    Probate proceedings routinely take over a year to complete , can be very expensive, and the details of your estate becomes public record. In regards to expenses, Probate generally entails executor fees, attorney fees (a set percentage of the estate value), and other administrative costs.
  4. How can Probate be avoided?

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    Probate can be avoided by creating and properly funding a Revocable Living Trust. Certain forms of ownership like joint tenancy will also avoid probate, but may unnecessarily expose assets to creditors and have unfavorable tax consequences for appreciating assets.
  5. What is a Revocable Living Trust?

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    Simply stated, a revocable living trust is similar to a will in that it sets forth how your assets will be distributed upon your passing. However, unlike a will, a properly funded trust avoids probate and the lengthy time and expenses associated with probate.
  6. Who manages my Revocable Living Trust during my lifetime?

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    A revocable living trust is typically owned and managed by the you as trustee. In addition, a successor trustee(s) is named in the trust by you to manage your trust assets in the event you become incapacitated. This eliminates the need for any court intervention if you are incapacitated.
  7. Who manages my Revocable Living Trust upon my passing?

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    Upon your passing the successor trustee(s) named by you would manage the trust assets and ultimately distribute the assets to the named trust beneficiaries in the manner you set forth. Again, Probate is not necessary for the distribution of trust assets to the named beneficiaries.
  8. What are the benefits of a Revocable Living Trust? BENEFIT #1 OF A REVOCABLE LIVING TRUST

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    Beyond avoiding Probate or a court supervised conservatorship for trust assets, a revocable living trust can reduce potential estate taxes for married couples. Although estate taxes currently only apply to the wealthiest, this political hot button issue is always subject to change in the future.

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  1. BENEFIT #2 OF A REVOCABLE LIVING TRUST

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    Depending upon your wishes, a trust permits you to specify at what age and under what conditions your beneficiaries shall receive their distributions. This can be very important if you feel a beneficiary is not mature enough to receive their share due to age or other financial problems.
  2. BENEFIT #3 OF A REVOCABLE LIVING TRUST

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    A revocable living trust may be amended (changed) or completely revoked (cancelled) at any time during the lifetime of the creator (you). In other words, it very easy to alter your trust for any reason if you desire.
  3. BENEFIT #4 OF A REVOCABLE LIVING TRUST

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    A "Special Needs" provision can be included in the trust in order to preserve public benefits for a beneficiary. This would ensure that their share would not disqualify the disabled beneficiary from public benefits; rather the assets would be used to supplement their public benefits.
  4. BENEFIT #5 OF A REVOCABLE LIVING TRUST

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    The creator of the trust (you) continue to own and retain full control over trust assets, just as if the trust did not exist. As example, you can sell or refinance a home held in the name of the trust, you continue to use your Social Security number for all trust assets, etc.
  5. What is an Advance Health Care Directive?

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    This is a document in which you name an individual(s) to make health care decisions for you in the event you are incapacitated and unable to do so yourself. This document also provides detailed instructions regarding specific health care matters, end-of-life decisions and organ donation.
  6. What is a Durable Power of Attorney for Finances?

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    This is a document in which you appoint a person(s) to manage your finances in the event you are incapacitated and unable to do so yourself. Together with an Advance Health Care Directive, this document eliminates a possible court supervised Conservatorship if you become incapacitated.
  7. What are the next steps for proceeding with Estate Planning with your firm?

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    Please call our office and schedule your free consultation. Sean will meet with you to learn about your specific situation, concerns and goals, and then provide you with a fair and reasonable "flat fee" quote for our estate planning services. We would love the opportunity to work for you!

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