Estate Planning FAQs

A will is a document where you name a personal representative or executor. Wills name the person who collects all of your accounts and property, pays your outstanding debts, and distributes your money and property to those you have named, specify who will receive your accounts and property, and name a guardian for any minor children.

A living will, also known as an advance directive, is your lesson plan for communicating your specific wishes regarding end-of-life decisions. Carefully considering your desires regarding life-prolonging procedures and clearly communicating them to your chosen medical decision-maker is imperative

A revocable living trust (RLT) is a trust you create during your lifetime. You can change this trust at any time until you become incapacitated (unable to make your own decisions) or die. An irrevocable trust is a type of trust that cannot be modified or revoked once it is created. This means that once assets are placed into the trust, they are no longer considered the property of the grantor and cannot be taken back

Yes, you can include pets in your estate plan. It’s important to determine who will care for your pets and to decide if you need to set aside funds to care for your pets as well.

Selecting a caregiver for your children in case you are unable to do so is a tough decision. While no one can match your love for your kids, it is important for you to choose their guardian rather than leaving it up to a judge. If you do not designate a guardian, the judge will decide based on state law and the guardian’s courtroom demeanor, lacking the personal knowledge you possess about the potential guardian.

When picking a guardian and alternate guardians, think about if they share your beliefs regarding religion, do they have experience raising children, can they handle the financial and time commitments, do they have the physical health and stamina to take on this responsibility, and if your children will have to move to a different state.

An ethical will is a document that explains why you have made estate plans the way you have. It is not a legally binding document, it is not used in probate court, nor does it divide your assets the way you want. It is mearly an expression of your wishes and your intentions.

After you have finished your estate plans you need to keep the original ink signed document, especially if you are going to have to probate the will. For trusts or powers of attorney, you can function with an executed copy.

No, your trust can not be challenged or dispute your wishes stated in the trust. One of the big benefits of doing a trust is that it is almost foolproof. It very specifically says who receives what when you pass.

Setting up an estate plan doesn’t have to be complicated or stressful. I like to start with an initial meeting to get to know you. After that meeting, I take about a week to do a draft of the documents. We do a follow-up meeting to review the documents together to ensure I know that you know what they say and make any changes you may have. It’s usually about 3 meetings. Some of my clients are done in about 3 weeks, others need more time. We work at your pace.

If you think there is going to be a fight over your estate you really need to nail down who is getting what and make sure that you avoid the fight.

It is important to plan ahead should you or a loved one become sick. One of the most important and easiest things you can do is to select a medical agent and set up your advance healthcare directive.

By taking a proactive approach to estate planning, you can ensure that the right individuals are chosen to protect your children based on their unique strengths. For example, someone with strong financial management skills but no desire for children may be best suited to be the trustee of your children’s trust. This individual can use their expertise to invest and manage any funds left for your children effectively.

Conversely, a loved one who is nurturing and caring but not as skilled with finances may be better suited to be your children’s guardian. This person can provide emotional support and guidance for your children, while the trustee can handle any financial matters as outlined in the trust. This strategic approach allows for the best possible outcome for your children’s future.

You should review your plan every year or so, especially after major life events such as retirement. When looking at your existing plan, the following are some important questions to ask yourself.

– Do you still own the same property or have the same account balances as when your plan was first created? What will the balances be at your death?

– Does your plan assume your children or other young beneficiaries are still minors?

– Does your plan rely on proceeds from an employer-provided life insurance policy?

– Do you want to change how much your beneficiaries inherit and how they receive their inheritance?

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