FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
~ Q & A ~
Why do I need an estate plan?
A well thought out estate plan ensures that your plans for your management and distribution of your assets, medical care, and guardianship for minor children will be carried out according to your wishes and not left to others to decide – or the State.
What happens if I don’t have a plan?
The government's estate plan is called Intestacy. Your assets would be distributed under State law. These statutes almost never match how you would have divided your assets yourself. Documents to appoint an Administrator must be filed with the Probate Court and their approval must be obtained. Thus, the state gets involved in your estate settlement process. Under this system, the court will appoint guardians for your minor children. The probate court may appoint a conservator to make decisions about your medical care if you are unable to do so. Without a valid plan, all decisions about your estate will have to be approved through the probate court system.
What should I consider before I begin?
Who will make health care decisions for you if you cannot make them yourself
Who will make financial decisions for you if you cannot make them yourself
How you want your estate to be distributed at your death
Who will be the successor trustee
Who will be the executor of your Last Will
Who should be the Guardian for your minor children
How you want your end of life medical care handled
If you want to make any anatomical gifts at your death
What’s the difference between having a “Will” and a “Living Trust”?
A last will is often referred to as a written document that states who you wish to be the guardians for your minor children and how you would like your assets distributed upon your demise. The last will names an executor to facilitate the management of your assets during the probate process. By going through the probate process, your estate is handled at the discretion of the public court system.
Trusts are a legal construct that allows you to create a separate legal entity to hold your assets. A trustee is named. Trustees manage the assets for the benefit of you and your beneficiaries. Revocable living trusts are created and funded during your lifetime and you often name yourself as trustee to maintain control of the assets until your demise or incapacity. A testamentary trust is created after your death by a provision in your will. Trusts are very flexible and there are many different types. The type of trust created for you is dependent on your specific goals and circumstances.
A Living Trust offers protection should you become incapacitated by allowing your successor trustee to manage your assets without interruption. Please note that even with a Living Trust you should still have a "pour-over” will. “Pour-over” wills make sure that any assets, which may not be in your Living Trust at the time of your death, "pour-over" into the trust. Your Trust Package will include all of the necessary estate planning documents – including a "pour-over will".