ESTATE PLANNING

WILLS

Wills are made public record as part of their settlement process. Many clients do not like the fact that a probated will is public record. This allows family, friends, and even strangers, the opportunity to contest in the form of lawsuits and additional litigation – which further drives up the cost of probating a will. Disagreements over the distribution of a will’s assets can greatly increase the cost and time accompanied with settling one’s estate. During this tedious, time-consuming process, fees continually reduce the value of the probated estate. Furthermore, the estate’s beneficiaries cannot receive their inheritance during the settling process – something that can commonly take two to three years to complete.

Some consider Probate a process similar to filing a lawsuit against yourself.
Meaning, you open all of your assets up to the court in order to be freely contested by the public. This allows antagonists the opportunity to obfuscate the settlement and/or size of your estate.

Probate usually involves excess money and time wasted in settling one’s estate. At the end of the process, the heirs may only receive a fraction of what the entire estate was valued at. Luckily, Probate – and all of the fees and wasted time associated therein – can be avoided through good Estate Planning.

An attorney is usually required for probate. It is worth noting that attorney’s fees can easily accumulate when probating an estate. Furthermore, these fees usually do not include litigation; meaning, that if someone contests said will, the litigation costs will usually be in addition to the normal legal fees. Even without additional litigation, unnecessary legal fees do usually consume a significant percentage of the total value of an estate – if it is probated.

A good Estate Plan can safeguard an Estate from having to go through probate. It can also grant peace of mind by allowing assets to be distributed in an efficient and stress-free fashion (through eliminating the probate process). This can save families substantial time and money – especially during emotional times.

TRUSTS

Living Trusts are beneficial for clients who want to avoid probate and guardianship of their Estate, reduce taxes, eliminate unnecessary attorney’s fees, promote flexibility in managing their assets, and to give privacy to their Estate. A Living Trust has more benefits than just making the settling of one’s Estate easier; a Living Trust is a multipurpose-institution that can be designed to maximize an individual’s freedom of choice in certain situations.

For example, a Living Trust can include healthcare provisions (such as Long-Term Care Policies) which allow clients to have greater flexibility in dealing with aging, illness, or, mental incompetence. Proper Estate Planning can prepare individuals for health-related situations (from natural aging to vehicular accidents). In addition, these provisions can allow individuals to avoid Guardianship hearings – a costly and potentially “encroaching” process. Guardianship usually involves the court overseeing the management of a person’s assets for the duration of their life; however, Guardianship can be simply avoided with good Estate Planning.

Proper Estate Planning doesn’t just plan for the inevitable – it attempts to provide a safeguard for life’s unforeseen calamities.

If you are seeking a flexible Estate Plan that offers numerous protections and safeguards while also potentially saving a considerable size of the Estate from unnecessary fees and taxes, then a Living Trust may be a good option for you.


 
THINGS TO AVOID WITH YOUR TRUST:
  • Avoid having an individual form the Trust was not fully knowledgeable and experienced in the Estate Planning process.
  • Avoid having the responsible individuals fail to properly transfer property into the Trust (“Fund the Trust”).
  • Avoid neglecting to change/amend a Trust when necessary (i.e. the Successor Trustee becomes incompetent and a new Successor Trustee ought to be appointed).
  • Avoid poor communication between the Trustor(s), their children, heirs, and Successor Trustee(s).

 
POTENTIAL TIPS ON FORMING A TRUST:
  • Make sure that the individual forming your Trust is knowledgeable in the Estate Planning process (we at Advisors Best, LLC recommend that all of our clients check the credentials/licenses of any professional with whom they do business with).
  • Be proactive in doing your part to fund your Trust. A good Estate Planner ought to provide assistance where available in ensuring that a newly formed Trust is properly funded according to the client’s wishes.
  • Good communication between the Trustor(s) and respective heirs is essential in ensuring an efficient, hassle-free settlement of your estate.