Our office has provided answers to some of the most commonly asked questions by our clients, which are listed below. However, we are best able to answer your specific questions during your Estate Planning initial consultation. Call us today to schedule an appointment (206) 408-8158.
What is a Revocable Living Trust?
A Revocable Living Trust is a type of estate plan whereby a person’s assets can be distributed to their loved ones without needing the oversight or approval of a probate court. The person who creates the Revocable Living Trust is called the Trustor, and they manage the Revocable Living Trust as a Trustee. They have complete control over their Revocable Living Trust during their lifetime. They also elect someone to act as their Successor Trustee, who will administer and distribute the Revocable Living Trust after the initial Trustee passes away.
Are there any restrictions on who I can appoint as my Successor Trustee in my Revocable Living Trust?
While you generally can pick any adult you would like to serve as your Successor Trustee, the Successor Trustee cannot be someone who has been convicted of a felony or any crime of what may be considered “moral turpitude.” It is most common for people to nominate family or a friend to act as Successor Trustee, although you may also a bank or trust company.
Why should I consider creating a Revocable Living Trust?
There are many various reasons one considers creating a Revocable Living Trust, and our office can help you determine if a Revocable Living Trust is right for you. The most common reasons are:
- Avoiding Probate
- Keeping their estate plan private, as opposed to having their will publicly filed in Court
- Better protection of their assets
- Minimize costs of administration for their loved ones
- Tax planning strategies
- Maintain control over the distribution of assets to their loved ones, especially minors
What is a Power of Attorney?
A Power of Attorney is a document which is prepared now, and gives another person certain powers to act on their behalf for a varied number of purposes. Most commonly, our office provides two different types of Power of Attorneys, one for healthcare purposes and another for financial purposes. These Power of Attorneys allows our clients to elect someone to make healthcare or financial decisions for them in the event that the client is unable to do so. A Power of Attorney is only valid during one’s lifetime. After the person passes away, the Power of Attorney terminates.
At what point should I consider having an Estate Plan?
Many clients think that they don’t need an estate plan because of their assessment of the size of their assets. Unfortunately, if something happens to you and you don’t have a Will, a probate court is going to decide what happens to your assets according to state law, without any consideration given to what your intentions may have been. In addition, having an estate plan is not only about your assets. You also want to ensure your spouse and children are taken care of, and also is very important for you to decide who you want to make decisions for you if you are unable to do so yourself.
It's important to remember that an Estate Plan doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive, it just has to be done properly and serve your needs. As your needs change over time, you can always update your Estate Plan to ensure your plan continues to serve your needs.
Can I protect my pets in my Estate Plan?
People don’t always think about their pets in an Estate Plan. While the law considers pets as property, the fact is, that most times people think of their pets as much more than that. Their pets are their family, and it’s important to them to ensure their pets are protected and well taken care of. If you have pets, we can prepare the proper documentation in your Estate Plan to ensure your pets will be well taken care of.
What is a Healthcare Directive?
A Healthcare Directive, also known as a Living Will, is a document in which you state your preference for healthcare treatment in the event you are in a permanent unconscious state. The Healthcare Directive concerns elections regarding artificial nutrition and hydration, life support, CPR, and blood transfusions.
How do I ensure my children’s inheritance is protected?
This is a concern among most of our clients who have children who are minors, or young adults. You’ve worked hard to acquire your assets, and the last thing you want to have happen is for one of your children to irresponsibly deplete their inheritance. We can tailor your Estate Plan so that your children do not receive their inheritance in one lump sum, but instead, in disbursement amounts that are predetermined by you.
How can I avoid probate?
There are a number of options for avoiding the Probate process. These include, but are not limited to:
- Creating a Revocable Living Trust
- Community Property Agreement
- Electing beneficiary designations
- Owning bank accounts Joint with Right of Survivorship
- Creating a “Payable on Death” account
- Transfer on Death deeds