FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
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…
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…
What are some reasons that a Trust may be more beneficial than a Will Alone in Planning an Estate?
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…
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cannot be changed (i.e., the beneficiary cannot be changed), and that whatever assets are placed in the Trust cannot be withdrawn by the Trustor.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.
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…
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.