Skip to main content

Living trust

A living trust (or "inter vivos" trust) is one you create while you are alive. It can help you reduce estate taxes and avoid probate, among other things.

Maria N. Jonsson | Apr 2, 2020

How to Fund Your Living Trust After it is Created

Real Estate Ensure that title to all your real estate (nationwide) was recorded in the name of your trust. If you have refinanced real estate that was already titled in the trust – ensure title remained in your Trust after the refinance. If you are unsure – contact your estate planning attorney to confirm. For all of your real estate – call your Home Owner’s Insurance company, and have them add the name of your Trust as an “additional insured” [this is very important, to avoid a refusal to pay on a claim]. Financial Assets, Life Insurance Policies, Retirement Accounts, and Business Interests For your bank accounts: visit your Banks, bring your trust, meet with a banker, and retitle your bank accounts in the name of the Trust. Connect with your financial advisor and ensure that your investment accounts are titled in the Trust. Don’t forget to discuss with your financial advisor the new IRA rules under the revised SECURE Act (i.e., the elimination of the stretch IRA, etc.) and how that would affect your beneficiaries in the context of distributions under your Trust. Connect with your life insurance broker and ensure the Trust is listed as the pay-on-death beneficiary of your life insurance policies. If you get life insurance benefits through work – see your HR Department, and find out how you can name your Trust as the beneficiary of that employer-sponsored insurance policy. If you own a Timeshare – contact the Timeshare Administrator and start the paperwork to retitle the timeshare into your trust. If you own a vehicle exceeding $166,250 in value – visit the DMV and change title to your Trust (be sure to bring the trust document along). If you have registered a Corporation or an LLC (whether in California or in another jurisdiction) – have your estate planning attorney prepare an Assignment of your business interest to the Trust.

Sean Patrick Reilly | Apr 2, 2020

IMPORTANT FINANCIAL ITEMS TO REVIEW REGULARLY

HOME OWNERS, PROPERTY, CASUALTY AND AUTO INSURANCE Homeowners / Auto Insurance (also called Hazard or Property and Casualty) – most homeowners pay their insurance through the lender’s escrow account. However, you should still review your insurance at least once a year. Shop around and make sure you have the best protection in place for the best rate. I grouped in Auto insurance as well because most folks bundle their home and auto for savings and convenience. It’s important to understand that bundling doesn’t necessarily save money, although it does in a lot of situations. LIFE INSURANCE Life Insurance – everyone should have some type of life insurance in place. Term is cheaper but it expires after a certain time. There are other policies such as whole life or universal policies which may be a better fit, but tend to be more costly per month. When setting up a life insurance policy, the insurance provider will ask you about selecting beneficiaries. Typically it’s a spouse or child or other loved one. These beneficiaries should also be reviewed on a regular basis in case changes need to be made. Connect with a local insurance agent who can guide you in selecting the right plan. ESTATE PLANS, WILLS, TRUST AND POWER OF ATTORNEY Estate Plan (will, trust and/or power of attorney documents) – Benjamin Franklin coined the phrase that two things are certain in life, death and taxes. With that understanding, creating some type of estate plan, even a basic one, is extremely important to make sure your loved ones and assets are taken care of after death. Certain instruments, like a trust, can be valuable for helping take care of matters even before death. The estate plan should work together with any insurance policies as mentioned above and investment plans discussed below. BUDGET, SAVINGS AND INVESTMENT PLANS Budget / Savings / Investment Plan – if you don’t tell your money where to go then you will lose track of it. It’s important to have a monthly budget for spending, saving, paying off debt and investing. There are many schools of thought out there when it comes to saving and investing. I personally recommend Dave Ramsey’s plan. His 7 Baby Steps are a good place to start. It’s great to look at bigger financial goals once a year or so but looking at your budget monthly or even multiple times a month doesn’t hurt. Certain investing such as IRAs and 401Ks also come with tax benefits for some individuals. Connect with a tax professional to make sure you’re taking advantage of these deductions.

Jeffrey Dale Althaus | Mar 31, 2020

Why Online Will and Trust Companies Are No Good

1 - Online Document Farms Legally Can't Send You Valid Documents This is a huge problem for online document companies. Legally, these places can't notarize or witness your documents since you are not in front of them. They will send you documents that have no notary, meaning your documents are worthless. Most people receive the documents and put them in a safe place immediately, not knowing they have just received documents that will not work for them down the road. 2 - They Claim You Can Speak With a Lawyer This is usually a false statement too. Many online document farms will claim that you can speak with an attorney about your estate plan. The trick here is that "attorney" means someone who has graduated law school. It does not mean someone that has any experience with wills or trusts, or has even really practiced law in the real world. 3 - They Claim To Save You Money Many of these types of online will companies will state that their wills are only $99. The thing they don't tell you is that if you want a will for your spouse, it's more money. Then if you want the rest of your estate planning documents those are extra too. Want to speak with someone with questions? That's extra too in most cases. Plus, in the end, if your plan doesn't work because it isn't state specific, it actually costs your family thousands of dollars in court fees and legal costs. 4 - Online Wills Don't Keep You Out Of Court Getting a plan online will almost always be a plan that sends your family to court. There are very specific things that have to be done with your property and beneficiary designations outside of your will or trust that need to be completed before your plan can avoid probate. Online document farms can't do that. Therefore, almost all plans from these companies will put your family in court when the time comes, costing them thousands of dollars down the road. This can all be avoided with a good plan!

Kenneth Albert Vercammen | Mar 18, 2020

E578 2020 Estate Planning & Probate Newsletter and materials from January 15 Will and Estate

E578 2020 Estate Planning & Probate Newsletter and materials from January 15 Will and Estate Update E578 2020 Estate Planning & Probate Newsletter and materials from January 15 Will and Estate Update By Kenneth Vercammen, Esq. Edison, NJ 1. Beware of cheap online forms. Always have proper Self- Proving Wills since witnesses often move or pass away. Often cheap online forms are rejected 2. Make sure your Will includes a formal "no bond required" 3. Include a funeral agent in your Will and Letter of Instruction to Family. 4. Problems if You Have No Will or a cheap online form not valid 5. Why periodic review and changes to Wills are recommended 6 2020 Federal Estate Tax Rates 7 Sign a new Power of Attorney- Do not use a form purchased online. 8. Have a new Living Will prepared to comply with the Federal Health Privacy Law (HIPAA) 1. Beware of cheap online forms. Always have proper Self- Proving Wills since witnesses often move or pass away. Often cheap online forms are rejected. The County Surrogates will reject for filing a Last Will and Testament when the Will was not correctly and legally signed and witnessed by independent persons. The prior New Jersey Probate law required one of the two witnesses to a Will to travel and appear in the Surrogate's office and sign an affidavit to certify they were a witness. This often created problems when the witness was deceased, moved away, or simply could not be located. Some witnesses would require a $500 fee to simply sign a surrogate affidavit. A relative's old Will was not self- proving, and the witness to the Will forced to pay a $500 fee to sign paperwork. The New Jersey Legislature later passed a law to create a type of Will called a "Self-Proving Will." In the improved "Self-Proving Will", the person for whom the Will is made first must sign. Then the two witnesses sign. Then the attorney or notary must sign; Then the person signs a second time on the self-proving affidavit, then the witnesses sign a second time, then the attorney signs with certain statutory language to indicate the Will is self-proving. Beware of online documents not prepared by an attorney. Never use a cheap form on line. No one tries to do their own electrical work on their home anymore or do their own dental work. Have a professional do it right. When done properly, the executor does not have to locate any witnesses. This usually saves time and substantial money. If your Will is not "self-proving" or if you are unsure, schedule an appointment with an estate planning attorney. Some law offices ignore the revised law, and fail to prepare self proving Wills. Do not use a law office that follows old methods and does not do a self-proving Will. Ken Vercammen's office prepares Self Proving Wills. 2. Make sure your Will includes a formal "No Bond required" clause so the executor/ personal representative does not have to spend thousands of dollars being bonded. Pull out your prior Will. Does it does not say No Bond required? If not, call an attorney to have a new Will prepared. If the Will does not say "No Bond required, usually the Executor will have to pay over $1,000 and go through the bonding process. 3. Include a funeral agent in your Will and Letter of Instruction t E578 2020 Estate Planning & Probate Newsletter and materials from January 15 Will and Estate Update E578 2020 Estate Planning & Probate Newsletter and materials from January 15 Will and Estate Update By Kenneth Vercammen, Esq. Edison, NJ 1. Beware of cheap online forms. Always have proper Self- Proving Wills since witnesses often move or pass away. Often cheap online forms are rejected 2. Make sure your Will includes a formal "no bond required" 3. Include a funeral agent in your Will and Letter of Instruction to Family. 4. Problems if You Have No Will or a cheap online form not valid 5. Why periodic review and changes to Wills are recommended 6 2020 Federal Estate Tax Rates 7 Sign a new Power of Attorney- Do not use a form purchased online. 8. Have a new Living Will prepared to comply with the Federal Health Privacy Law (HIPAA) 1. Beware of cheap online forms. Always have proper Self- Proving Wills since witnesses often move or pass away. Often cheap online forms are rejected. The County Surrogates will reject for filing a Last Will and Testament when the Will was not correctly and legally signed and witnessed by independent persons. The prior New Jersey Probate law required one of the two witnesses to a Will to travel and appear in the Surrogate's office and sign an affidavit to certify they were a witness. This often created problems when the witness was deceased, moved away, or simply could not be located. Some witnesses would require a $500 fee to simply sign a surrogate affidavit. A relative's old Will was not self- proving, and the witness to the Will forced to pay a $500 fee to sign paperwork. The New Jersey Legislature later passed a law to create a type of Will called a "Self-Proving Will." In the improved "Self-Proving Will", the person for whom the Will is made first must sign. Then the two witnesses sign. Then the attorney or notary must sign; Then the person signs a second time on the self-proving affidavit, then the witnesses sign a second time, then the attorney signs with certain statutory language to indicate the Will is self-proving. Beware of online documents not prepared by an attorney. Never use a cheap form on line. No one tries to do their own electrical work on their home anymore or do their own dental work. Have a professional do it right. When done properly, the executor does not have to locate any witnesses. This usually saves time and substantial money. If your Will is not "self-proving" or if you are unsure, schedule an appointment with an estate planning attorney. Some law offices ignore the revised law, and fail to prepare self proving Wills. Do not use a law office that follows old methods and does not do a self-proving Will. Ken Vercammen's office prepares Self Proving Wills. 2. Make sure your Will includes a formal "No Bond required" clause so the executor/ personal representative does not have to spend thousands of dollars being bonded. Pull out your prior Will. Does it does not say No Bond required? If not, call an attorney to have a new Will prepared. If the Will does not say "No Bond required, usually the Executor will have to pay over $1,000 and go through the bonding process. 3. Include a funeral agent in your Will and Letter of Instruction t

Thomas J Bouman | Mar 18, 2020

Naming Retirement Account Beneficiaries after the SECURE Act

Summary for Spouse Beneficiary If married, name your spouse as primary beneficiary of your retirement account unless (1) you want to prevent your spouse from disinheriting your children or other preferred remainder beneficiaries after your death, which often occurs when family dynamics are disrupted, or your spouse chooses to remarry; or (2) you need to protect the account from a clear and present danger related to your spouse, such as concerns about your spouse’s spendthrift habits, susceptibility to undue influence, or qualification for government-sponsored health benefits. If one of the above-described exceptions applies, then choose a type of trust to name as beneficiary: 1. Conduit (favors income tax optimization, qualifies for stretch IRA treatment, all withdrawals pass through to spouse, trustee may not accumulate assets in trust, only makes sense if you name a third-party trustee) 2. Accumulation (favors asset protection, subject to usual 10-year liquidation rule, trustee may accumulate withdrawals from account or pass them through to beneficiary, only makes sense if you name a third-party trustee) 3. Charitable remainder (balances both income tax optimization and asset protection, trust assets remain in tax-deferred environment until distributed, trust pays out annuity or percentage amount to spouse for life then to contingent beneficiaries for term of years or life, balance to charity when distribution period ends, spouse may serve as trustee) Summary for Non-Spouse Beneficiaries When naming non-spouse beneficiaries, you should first determine your primary objective regarding how to distribute the retirement account to your beneficiaries: 1. Give outright (no desire to delay, restrict, or protect) 2. Delay for young child 3. Restrict in response to an identifiable clear and present danger 4. Protect from future threats (lawsuits, ex-spouse, debt collectors, etc.) If GIVE OUTRIGHT, then list the beneficiary names on the standard beneficiary designation form. If DELAY and account value is more than $100,000 per beneficiary, then name a type of trust as beneficiary instead:  1. Conduit (favors income tax optimization, qualifies for stretch IRA treatment until beneficiary attains age of majority then usual 10-year liquidation rule goes into effect, all withdrawals pass through to beneficiary, trustee may not accumulate asset in trust, requires third-party trustee) 2. Accumulation (favors asset protection, subject to usual 10-year liquidation rule, trustee may accumulate withdrawals from account or pass them through to beneficiary, no distributions required, requires third-party trustee until a specified age) If RESTRICT, then choose an Accumulation trust to name as beneficiary (same as accumulation trusts above and below, except beneficiary is ineligible to serve as trustee in most scenarios). Conduit and charitable remainder trusts might be feasible, but both require mandatory distributions that would not be restricted. If PROTECT and account value is more than $100,000 per beneficiary, then choose a type of trust as beneficiary instead: 1. Accumulation (favors asset protection, subject to usual 10-year liquidation rule, trustee may accumulate withdrawals from account or pass them through to beneficiary, no distributions required, beneficiary may serve as trustee) 2. Charitable remainder (adds income tax optimization, trust assets remain in tax-deferred environment until distributed, trust pays out annuity or percentage amount to beneficiaries for a term of years or life, balance to charity when distribution period ends, beneficiary may serve as trustee)

Regina Kiperman | Mar 17, 2020

Important Estate Planning Documents

A Will or a Trust is an Important Estate Planning Document Must manual for the timely and orderly disposition of your assets. However, a Will requires that it be probated before it can be given any force and effect. A Trust on the other hand, is effective immediately. It does not require probate and it also, often, does not require any Court intervention. This becomes increasingly important in the event of a quarantine or system and city-wide shutdown. With a Trust, the appointed Trustee simply takes over and can make distributions in accordance with the terms of the Trust without ever having to set foot outside or in the Courthouse. Appropriate Fiduciary Designations A fiduciary is a representative, or an agent, who will step in your shoes and act on your behalf when you are no longer able to do so. A fiduciary can act on your behalf when you are incapacitated or when you are dead. It is very important to choose the right fiduciary so that your estate can proceed in an orderly process. As the Estate Planning Kickstart Group will confirm, you should make sure that all of your documents nominate fiduciaries who are still alive and able to act. Your 80 year old mother is probably not a good choice right now. For one thing, she may not want to, and should not be, leaving her home under present conditions. For another, she may find the process to cumbersome and difficult. Chose individuals who you trust, who can get the job done, who know how to locate assets, preserve them, and distribute them in accordance with your governing document. Appropriate Beneficiary Designations on your Assets Once of the most basic principles of estate planning is that a beneficiary designation overrides the terms of your Will. Often I meet people who designate their minor child as the contingent beneficiary of their life insurance or retirement account. This is a huge mistake. If you designate your child as the beneficiary, that child is not going to be able to collect those assets without a guardian being formally appointed by the Court. The funds will be placed into an account jointly with the Clerk of the Court and, when the Courts are closed and you need access to the money, you will find yourself mired in both red tape and locked doors. If you have minor children, then you need to create a trust for their benefit (either inside or outside of the Will). Your beneficiary designation should then be changed to reflect the Trust as the contingent beneficiary. Advance Directives – Important Estate Planning Documents The following documents are collectively known as “Advance Directives”: Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy, Living Will, HIPAA, Appointment of Agent to Control Remains, Designation of Guardian for Adult, and Designation of Guardian for a Minor. The purpose of these documents is to designate a person who can act on your behalf in the event that you become incapacitated. This becomes particularly important when you are sick. Power of Attorney is the document that allows another person to make decisions and have access to your finances. The other documents are for medical decisions making and access to your medical records. It is important that you fill out these documents in the event that you get sick. If you do not have these documents and do become sick, then a guardianship proceeding may need to be commenced on your behalf. A guardianship proceeding involves the Courts and is about one hundred times more expensive than executing these documents. Do yourself a favor and get a set of advance directives to protect you and allow somebody to quickly step up to the plate to make decisions and access your money. Intra Family Transfers For Those of us Bold Enough to Think Post Pandemic Interest rates are about to be at historic lows. The federal reserve chairman is not only dropping rates but also trying to reassure people that the government will start buying bonds. These low rates are not only great for mortgages but are also an excellent time to transfer assets from one generation to the next. This is also a great time to engage in estate freezing transactions such as GRATS and CLATS. The reason that these estate planning techniques should be utilized right now is because they rely on the 7520 rate. As the 7520 rate drops, these tools become more popular. GRATS and CLATS can be complicated but please feel free to contact us and we will explain them to you in detail. We can help you plan you create these important estate planning documents in the wake of this pandemic. The best part is that neither of us have to leave our homes to get most of it done. We can handle almost everything by phone or video conference. (Hopefully our quarantine will be over faster than you can say “I am ready to sign my drafts.”)

Jonathan P Bacsalmasi | Mar 3, 2020

Advanced Estate Planning in Oregon

Advanced Estate Planning in Oregon business, and supporting minor children. Some individuals may want legal guidance with additional matters beyond the scope of the basic legal tools mentioned above. Below are some examples: Retirement Plan Trusts (also called IRA Trusts) Your individual retirement plan is shielded from your own creditors and bankruptcy, but the same protection is not provided to anyone who inherits the remainder of your retirement plan assets after your death. Also, those who inherit retirement plans are more likely to choose a lump-sum payout rather than a long-term payout, or rollover. This results in harmful negative income tax implications for your beneficiaries. Many people cringe at the thought of their hard-earned retirement account being spent in a year or two by their children. A retirement plan trust helps resolve these issues and provides important protection for your beneficiaries. Charitable Remainder Trusts (CRATs and CRUTs) A charitable remainder trust is a trust that provides the trustmakers or grantors income for a number of years, after which a charity (or charities) of your choice receives the remaining trust assets. The benefits to you include a reliable steady stream of income for a number of years, a partial charitable income tax deduction, and possible capital gains tax relief. Charitable Lead Trusts A charitable lead trust is a trust you set up to provide income to a charity for a term. The longer the time period, the better the gift tax savings will be to you as the creator of the trust. After the term ends, the remaining property in the trust is distributed to the beneficiaries you designated, such as yourself, family, or others. Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts (ILITs) In general, your life insurance policy is included in your taxable estate at your death. If you wish to reduce estate taxes at your death, you may want to remove the insurance policy from your estate with an irrevocable life insurance trust. Additionally, you may be concerned that the beneficiaries of your insurance policy will not spend the proceeds appropriately upon your death. By designating a trust as the beneficiary of your policy and providing guidance to the trustee on how to invest or distribute those proceeds, you can simultaneously reduce taxes and have more control over the proceeds of your policy.

Jonathan P Bacsalmasi | Mar 3, 2020

Advantages of a Revocable Living Trust

Advantages of a Revocable Living Trust Avoidance of Probate In particular, a revocable living trust can avoid multiple expensive and time-consuming probate proceedings when you own real estate in different states, as well as avoid the publication of the otherwise private financial details of your estate. Often the cost of settling a trust is substantially less than the cost of settling a will. Avoidance of Conservatorship A revocable trust can avoid the additional cost of a court-monitored conservatorship in the event of your incapacity, and can privately establish those individuals who will assist you with managing assets. Efficient Distribution A revocable trust can reduce delays in distributing your property after you die. A Trustee can generally take control of your assets and begin paying pending bills quickly and more efficiently than in a probate. A trust also avoids the demanding timeline and numerous documents required by the probate courts. Confidentiality Generally, the terms of your revocable living trust and your assets are confidential, with only your named beneficiaries and trustee having access to that information. Continuity A trust can provide for a smooth continuity of management of your property in the event of your incapacity or death. Flexibility A well-written trust can deal with asset protection issues including shielding assets for your beneficiaries in the event of lawsuits, creditor issues, or divorce. A well-written trust can even help a beneficiary maintain eligibility for government benefits while also receiving their inheritance. Minors who are set to receive funds from the trust may have the funds managed by an adult you designate until the minor reaches a particular age. Drawbacks of a Revocable Living Trust Expenses of Planning A revocable living trust is more complicated than a will to draft, and asset transfers can take time and can result in additional costs. However, these costs are often offset by avoiding the probate process. Expenses of Settlement Many people choose family or friends to handle their affairs upon incapacity or death. However, if you appoint a bank or trust company as trustee, you will have fees to pay (though these may take the place of investment advisory fees and other fees you are already paying). As a note, setting up a revocable living trust instead of a will does not eliminate the need for professional services of attorneys and accountants in the future. Ongoing Diligence Once the trust is established, you must be sure that all assets are properly titled to the trust, as well as assets you acquire in the future. Individuals dealing with the trustee (such as banks and title insurance companies) may want to review certain provisions of the trust to confirm the trustee’s powers and duties. Collier Law walks with clients through this process to help confirm each of these pieces is completed. We also serve as an ongoing resource for our clients as they acquire new assets in the future. Complexity Revocable living trusts often are more complex than wills and require you pay a bit more attention to your assets going forward. Unforeseen Problems Revocable living trusts can raise a variety of new challenges regarding the ability to borrow against property, title insurance coverage, real estate in other countries, Subchapter-S stock, certain pension distributions, and other issues. Only an attorney who focuses their practice on estate planning should tell you whether a revocable living trust is the best estate planning tool for you, your beneficiaries, and your assets.

Jonathan P Bacsalmasi | Mar 3, 2020

Revocable Living Trusts

Revocable Living Trusts A newly-created trust does not yet own any assets or property, so it must be “funded” by the individuals who created it. The individuals who create a revocable living trust are referred to as the grantors, but may also be called trustors or trustmakers. Funding a trust is the process in which the grantors will change the ownership of their assets to be owned by the trust. The grantors will continue to manage their assets the same as they did before the trust was created. However, they will now be doing so as the current trustees of the trust. All assets stay under your control, and remain held under your social security number. During your lifetime, you will be both the grantor and trustee of your trust. In the event that you need assistance in managing your financial affairs, the trust will describe who may step in as a successor trustee and under what circumstances that individual will assist you. Upon your death, the trust will become irrevocable. Once the trust is irrevocable, it generally cannot be modified or cancelled. At that point, your successor trustee will step in and manage the assets held in the trust according to your wishes and provisions of the trust. Those provisions also describe the beneficiaries who will receive or inherit assets and property from your trust upon your death. Can a revocable living trust help avoid probate? Trusts are a very common and efficient estate planning tool. Many people are not interested in having their estate settled by the probate courts under the directions of a will. A well-prepared and maintained trust will bypass the delay and expense of probate. It can also reduce taxes on your estate upon death. The trust will describe who may step in as trustee in case the grantors of the trust become incapacitated. Without a trust, the courts may need to intervene to appoint an individual to manage your property through a conservatorship. A conservatorship is also a costly and burdensome process which can be avoided with a revocable living trust. Avoiding probate can help a modest estate preserve its value for beneficiaries. If I have a revocable living trust, do I need a will? Even if you have a revocable living trust you will still need a pour-over will. As its name suggests, a pour-over will can be used to “pour over” into your trust any assets accidentally left out of your trust. This includes assets not properly titled in the name of your trust during your lifetime. Ideally, the pour-over will is not needed. However, this document serves as a safety net for the trust. The terms of the pour-over will state that your trust is your sole beneficiary, and this will allow any accidentally-omitted assets to be distributed through the provisions of your trust once probate is completed. How do I create a revocable living trust? If a revocable living trust is appropriate for you, you will need a written agreement which sets out your wishes and plans for the management and distribution of your assets. Once the trust agreement is in place, you must transfer your assets to the trust. Your assets will now be owned by the trust and managed by you as trustee of the trust. Real property deeds and other legal documents or paperwork may be necessary to ensure your bank accounts, investment accounts, and other assets are properly transferred to the trust. Assets not formally transferred to the trust might still be subject to probate. You must also have a pour-over will to ensure that any property not properly placed in your trust before death can be transferred to the trust after death. If there are assets still owned in your individual name rather than your trust upon your death, then your pour-over will can transfer these assets to your trust. If the assets requiring probate include personal property valued under $75,000 and real property valued under $200,000, an Affidavit of Claiming Successor can be filed with the probate court which allows for a shorter probate process. If your assets exceed one or both of those thresholds, a more comprehensive probate process is required. What does a revocable living trust cost? The cost of a revocable living trust may depend on how complicated your assets and your estate planning goals are, how many assets must be transferred to the trust, and whether tax planning is necessary. Before you direct an attorney to set up a trust for you, ask for estimates of how much the entire process will cost, how much a will would cost in place of a trust, and how much probate might cost given your assets and circumstances. Some law firms, including Collier Law, offer a complimentary initial consultation to learn about your estate planning goals before estimating the cost to prepare your documents. A revocable living trust plan should include the trust document, assistance with funding your assets into the trust, a “pour-over” will to serve as a safety net for assets inadvertently omitted from the trust, and a durable power of attorney. It should also include related legal documents, such as an advance directive to address medical decisions and a certification of trust, which summarizes important trust terms and information.

Nicole Monique Loughlin | Feb 20, 2020

What is Included in a Basic Estate Plan?

A basic estate plan is more than just a Will, though having a Will is an important component and essential to an estate plan. So here are the basics: Will – the document that determines who gets what upon your death. You will appoint a Personal Representative who will be responsible for administering your estate according to your wishes. A Will is especially important if you have minor children because it allows you to name a guardian. Durable Power of Attorney – this is where you designate your attorney in fact, who is the person who will step in your shoes and take over your financial affairs in the event you are deemed incapacitated. Healthcare Surrogate – much like the power of attorney, the healthcare surrogate is the person you choose to step into your shoes and make healthcare decisions on your behalf in the event you are deemed incapacitated. Living Will – this is your directive regarding what to do in the event you are terminally ill or in a persistent vegetative state, a/k/a whether you want your healthcare surrogate to “pull the plug.” As I discuss in the video, you may not want to designate the same person to serve as both your attorney in fact and healthcare surrogate. What is important is that you take measures to protect what matters most to you now before that power is no longer yours. In the state of Florida, if you do not create a will, the state will create one for you. If you do not have a power of attorney and healthcare surrogate in place, the court may appoint someone to act for you, and that person may not be one you would have chosen for yourself.