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FAQ



FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is Estate Planning?

Contrary to popular belief, Estate Planning involves much more than having a lawyer draft a Trust or a Will. Estate Planning is an ongoing process. Your estate plan should be periodically reviewed so that it accurately reflects changes to your family structure (i.e., marriage, divorce, adoption, etc.), changes to your assets (acquiring new assets, selling off existing assets, etc.), changes to how your assets are to be distributed after your death, and changes in probate and other laws pertaining to the distribution of your assets…

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What is a Trust?

A trust is a separate legal entity that owns assets for the benefit of a third person (beneficiary). A Trust is a tool used by an Estate Planning lawyer to plan a client’s estate…

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What are some reasons that a Trust may be more beneficial than a Will Alone in Planning an Estate?

  • You may save a great deal of money. An estate plan that contains a validly created Trust is not subject to Probate.  Probate costs and fees can get quite costly, leaving your heirs with much less of your estate than that you intend to give to them. In California, the probate fees and costs are statutorily set based upon the value of the estate being probated.
  • Confidentiality. Because court records and all documents in the court file are public records, the contents of the Will, the assets in the Estate, debts and claims against the Decedent, and who gets what can be viewed by anyone. With a trust only the Lawyer, Trustee and the Beneficiaries have access to this information.
  • When carefully drafted by an Estate Planning Lawyer, a Trust may assist in the avoidance of Estate Tax or deferment of payment of Estate Taxes.

 

What is a Living Trust?

When you set up a Living Trust, you are the Trustor; anyone you name within the Trust who will benefit from the assets in the Trust is a beneficiary. In addition to being the Trustor, you can also serve as your own Trustee (Original Trustee). This allows for flexibility in setting up the Trust…

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What is the difference between a Revocable Trust and an Irrevocable Trust?

A Revocable Trust allows the Trustor to change the terms of the Trust or even revoke the Trust altogether and take back all of the assets that are contained in the Trust. An Irrevocable Trust is where the terms of the Trust cannot be changed (i.e., the beneficiary cannot be changed), and that whatever assets are placed in the Trust cannot be withdrawn by the Trustor.

 

What is a Will?

A will or testament is a legal document by which a person, the testator, expresses his or her wishes as to how his or her property is to be distributed at death, and names one or more persons, the executor, to manage the estate until its final distribution.

 

What is a Pour-Over Will?

A Pour-Over Will is typically used in conjunction with a Trust.  Simply put, if an asset you own is not held by the Trust at your death, the Will instructs the Executor that such assets and any remaining property, “pour-over” into the Trust. This allows the administrator of the Trust to effectively distribute all property through the Trust.

 

What is Trust Administration?

Trust administration refers to the trustees’ management of trust property according to the trust document’s terms and for the benefit of the beneficiaries after the settlor’s death. Many steps are required to safeguard effective administration. It is recommended to work with an attorney to help facilitate the process for the trustees throughout the process. Typically the court is not involved in the process…

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What is Probate?

Probate is the court supervised transfer of a decedent’s assets in the manner provided by his or her Will, or if he or she died without a Will, in accordance with state law. Also, designated as estate administration include the collection and management of the decedent’s assets, paying the decedent’s debts and taxes, and distribution of the remaining assets to the beneficiaries. There are significant costs in the Probate process.

 

What is a Living Will/Power/Advanced Health Care Directive?

A Living Will/Advanced Health Care Directive are written statements detailing a person’s desires regarding their medical treatment in circumstances in which they are no longer able to express informed consent, especially an advance directive. The person authorizing the other to act is the principal. The one authorized to act is the agent.

 

What is a Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney (POA) is a written authorization to represent or act on another’s behalf in private affairs, business, or some other legal matter, sometimes against the wishes of the other. The person authorizing the other to act is the principal. The one authorized to act is the agent.

 

What is a Conservatorship?

A conservatorship is a court case where a judge appoints a responsible person or organization (called the “conservator”) to care for another adult (called the “conservatee”) who cannot care for himself or herself or manage his or her own finances.

 

What is a Guardianship?

Guardianship is when a court orders someone other than the child’s parent to: Have custody of the child; or Manage the child’s property (called “estate”); or Both.

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Attorney Advertising. This web site is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer-client relationship. Results depend on a variety of factors unique to each matter. Prior results do not guarantee or predict a similar result in any future matter undertaken by us.

Dale A. Arens is an Estate Planning and Probate attorney located in Encino, CA, specializing in trusts or living trusts, wills, power of attorney for financial affairs, advanced healthcare directives or living wills, and various transfer documents.