F.A.Q. | Estate Plan Pros
When do I need an Estate Plan?

Do you want to wait until you’re in the emergency room, or heading out on that fabulous vacation you’ve been looking forward to?  The trouble with putting off creating a plan until you need one, is that you can’t create it when you or your family need it, because you’ll be incapacitated or worse.

 

What if it's too emotional?

It can be hard emotionally to consider your families future without your presence.  But with a careful plan, you can make sure that your family is taken care of.  Leaving things undone can create additional hardships and hurdles for your family.

How expensive is an Estate Plan?

The real costly choice is not having an effective estate plan.

i.      If you are become incapacitated without an estate plan, your family may be required to go to court to obtain a conservatorship, and obtain court permission to make the most basic decisions.

ii.      If you pass away without an estate plan, your estate will have to go through the court probate process, costing extra thousands of dollars, and sometimes requiring assets to be sold.

iii.      If your minor children receive life insurance proceeds without an estate plan, they (through their guardians) will have to go through a laborious court process to access those funds without an effective estate plan.

If you pass away without an estate plan and have a large estate, your heirs may be stuck paying additional taxes that could have been avoided.

Why Should I Care About Estate Plans?
You may not care about what happens to your stuff, but I hope you do care about what happens to the people you care about the most.  If you don't have a proper plan in place you may be setting yourself or your family up for disaster down the road.

No Plan: “Henry” lost his wife of many years… and his home. The home was held in his wife’s name, and everything went to her children, including the house. Henry, an elderly man, suddenly had no wife, and no home. Had his Wife made an estate plan, Henry could have stayed in the house until his death, with everything going to the children after he was gone.

 Bad Plan: “Pauline” owned a large lot and home, and didn’t want to have her son go through probate, so she put her son on title to her home. She even built herself a small house on the property and moved her son into her home. Unfortunately, she and her son had a falling out, and she found herself in court over a property dispute with her own child. Had she created an estate plan instead of giving her son an ownership interest, she would still have her home, and who knows, perhaps a better behaved son.

 

How complicated is making an Estate Plan?

We make it easy, and walk you through each important step so you don’t miss anything important.

You don’t’ have to be an expert mechanic to drive the freeway.  Let us be the “mechanics” and we’ll even teach you how to drive!  We will show you what most people don’t know about their estate plan, and we’ll show you how to effectively implement your plan.

Everyone Knows What I Want, Why Do I Need An Estate Plan?
A plan in your head won’t beat the plan written by the state; and they may be two very different plans. Even if you’ve talked it over with the important people in your life.
I'm not Bill Gates, do I really need an Estate Plan?
Even if you don’t have a lot to leave behind, there is more to an estate plan than just who gets your stuff. If you are incapacitated, who will pay the bills and who talk to the doctor in your stead?
I just need something simple. Can't I do this myself?
What you don’t know about your estate plan is going to have a major impact on your family’s future. And when the plan is finally implemented after you are gone, it’s too late to go back and fix any mistakes you made.
What is a Living Trust?
A living trust is typically designed to avoid probate. When the person puts assets into a trust, they are no longer part of that person’s estate. The trust spells out who will take over as trustee and who will receive the trust assets when the person creating the trust dies. While there are many different kinds of trusts, a "living" trust or "revocable" trust generally refers to the same thing - a trust that you control and can change while you're alive.
What is Probate?

Probate is the court case approving the transfer of your estate to your heirs after you pass away. Probate cases have very strict rules governing the process. They are a part of the public record, and open for anyone to see what kind of assets your heirs will be inheriting. There is no protection against creditors, in fact creditors have to be given special notice, and have an opportunity to submit claims against the estate. Probate cases can be expensive. An attorney and the executor handling a probate are entitled to a set percentage of the gross value of the estate.

Can A Will Avoid Probate?

No, a will must be handled through probate. Estates without a will must also go through probate.

Can A Living Trust Avoid Probate?

Yes, assets put into a living trust do not go through probate.

What is Guardianship?

There are two basic types of guardianship: guardianship of the person, and guardianship of the estate.  Guardianship is when the court appoints someone other than the parents as the legal protector and provider for a child’s person.  The court may also appoint someone as the legal protector for a child’s estate.  A guardian of the child’s estate must get court permission to use the estate for the child’s benefit, and must account to the court how the child’s estate is handled.

Can A Will Avoid Guardianship?
No. Your minor children must have a guardian of the person in the event of your passing.  However, a good estate plan can avoid requiring a guardian of the estate by putting the child’s assets in trust.

Parents use a will to say who they want as a guardian of the person and estate in the event of their death.  A will could instruct the probate court to create a trust for the minors, but your estate would still go through probate.

Can An Estatae Plan Avoid Guardianship?
Yes, a good estate plan can avoid guardianship of the minor’s estate, and protect the minors from creditors.

What is Conservatorship?

There are two basic types of conservatorship, conservator over the person, and conservator over the estate.  The court creates a conservatorship when an adult is unable to care for themselves physically or financially.  A conservator of the estate must get court permission to use the estate’s assets for the benefit of the person under the conservatorship, and must give the court an accounting of how the estate is being handled.

Can A Will Avoid Conservatorship?

No, a will only takes effect when a person dies, it does not have any effect when a person is incapacitated.

Can An Estate Plan Avoid Conservatorship?

Yes, a complete estate plan can avoid the necessity of establishing a conservatorship.

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