Living Trust Based Estate Plan For Individuals
DescriptionDate posted: 03-Dec-2013
McKenzie Law Firm
Los Alamitos, CA
1 @ $1,500.00
Living Trusts for Individuals
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. I HAVE A WILL. WHY WOULD I WANT A LIVING TRUST? Contrary to what you've probably heard, a will may not be the best plan for you and your family--primarily because a will does not avoid probate when you die. A will must be verified by the probate court before it can be enforced.
Also, because a will can only go into effect after you die, it provides no protection if you become physically or mentally incapacitated. So the court could easily take control of your assets before you die--a concern of millions of older Americans and their families.
2. WHAT IS PROBATE? Probate is the legal process through which the court sees that, when you die, your debts are paid and your assets are distributed according to your will. If you don't have a valid will, your assets are distributed according to state law.
3. WHAT'S SO BAD ABOUT PROBATE? It can be expensive. Legal/executor fees and other costs must be paid before your assets can be fully distributed to your heirs. If you own property in other states, your family could face multiple probates, each one according to the laws in that state. Because these costs can vary widely, be sure to get an estimate.
It takes time, usually 9 months to 2 years. During part of this time, assets are usually frozen so an accurate inventory can be taken. Nothing can be distributed or sold without court and/or executor approval. If your family needs money to live on, they must request a living allowance, which may be denied.
Your family has no control. The probate process determines how much it will cost, how long it will take, and what information is made public.
4. WHY WOULD THE COURT GET INVOLVED AT INCAPACITY? If you can't conduct business due to mental or physical incapacity (Alzheimer's, stroke, heart attack, etc.), only a court appointee can sign for you, even if you have a will. (Remember, a will only goes into effect after you die.)
Once the court gets involved, it usually stays involved until you recover or die. The court, not your family, controls how your assets are used to care for you. This public process can be expensive, embarrassing, time consuming and difficult to end if you recover. And it does not replace probate at death, meaning that your family could have to go through the court system twice!
5. WHAT IS A LIVING TRUST? A living trust is a legal document that, just like a will, contains your instructions for what you want to happen to your assets when you die. But, unlike a will, a living trust avoids probate at death, can control all of your assets, and prevents the court from controlling your assets at incapacity.6. SHOULD I HAVE AN ATTORNEY DO MY TRUST? Yes, in California, only a licensed attorney can provide legal services and advice. Make sure, however, that the attorney's practice is primarily devoted to estate planning (and, if appropriate, elderlaw).
7. ARE ALL LIVING TRUSTS THE SAME? No. Unfortunately, the vast majority of Living Trusts and other estate planning documents drafted today are "one-size-fits-all" boilerplate documents, cranked out on a computer software program. Thomas L. McKenzie gives a personal guarantee to all of his clients, that each and every Living Trust, Durable Power of Attorney and other estate planning document, is PERSONALLY drafted by him in accordance with your unique circumstances.
8. WHO SHOULD HAVE A LIVING TRUST? Age, marital status and wealth don't really matter. If you own titled assets and want to protect your assets, protect your wishes and enable your loved ones (spouse, children or parents) to avoid court interference at your death or incapacity, consider a Living Trust.