Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some questions you might have about the next steps to establishing your financial legacy.
What is estate planning?
Before I became an attorney, I knew very little about estate planning. I figured, like many other people, that I didn’t have to worry about estate planning because I wasn’t wealthy. But I could not have been farther from the truth. Estate planning is important for everyone it is never too early to start!
Your estate consists of everything that you own or have a controlling interest in. This includes your personal property, real estate, cash, financial securities, retirement accounts, life insurance policies, etc. No matter how big or small your estate is, you can’t take it with you when you die.
Having an estate plan will allow you to create a plan for what will happen to everything in your estate when you pass away. The transfer of the property in your estate is usually done by a last will and trust, a trust, beneficiary designations, or a combination of the three.
But a good estate plan just doesn’t stop there. A well-drafted estate plan allows you to not only make a plan for your property but will also put you in control of:
- who will raise your children should you pass away while they are still minors;
- your health care including end of life care; and
- the unexpected.
To put it simply, estate planning is life planning.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be wealthy to start the estate planning process. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that the unexpected can and will happen. So, why not make a plan for it?
A good estate plan puts you in the driver’s seat and gives you control, which will, in turn, alleviate the burdens of your surviving family and friends.
How long is the estate planning process?
Our estate planning process takes about 6-8 weeks.
We first start with a 15-mins virtual meet and greet, so we can learn more about you and see how firm may be able to assist you and your family.
The next meeting is our Consultation.
Our Consultations are a 90-minute virtual working session, where we discuss your goals and objectives for estate planning.
During this meeting we will design your estate plan.
After this meeting, we draft your documents based on the plan we designed in your Consultation.
Approximately 4 weeks after your Consultation, you will virtually meet with us to review your drafted documents.
Shortly following your document review meeting, you will come to our office for your document signing.
What happens if I don't have a will?
If you don’t have a will, your assets and property will pass to your family following the laws of your state.
Each state has a set of laws called intestacy laws. These laws control what happens to your property if you were to die without a will.
Generally, through these laws, your property would pass through your bloodline, leaving your property to relatives you know…or don’t know.
It’s important to have a will so you can control how your assets are distributed following your death.
This is particularly important if you want to leave property or assets to an individual to who you are not related to such as a friend, boyfriend/girlfriend, or an unmarried life partner.
What's the difference between a will and a trust?
A will is a document that indicates how your property will be distributed after your death and allows you to appoint a Personal Representative to carry out your wishes.
A living trust is an arrangement that transfers your property to trust ownership.
Having both these legal documents will save your family time and money after your death. In both of these documents, you can name beneficiaries for your property and always make changes to them until the time of your death as long as you remain mentally competent.
One main difference between a will and a living trust is that a will goes into effect after your death while a trust goes into effect as soon as you sign it.
A will is a public document that is required to go through probate where the court ensures that the will is valid and that your property is distributed according to your will.
On the contrary, a living trust is private document where property can pass to beneficiaries without probate.
In addition, a trust can privately manage assets if the grantor becomes disabled, but the will does not have provisions for disability.
However, a will allows you to make specific arrangements for your minor children and your funeral, while a trust does not.
You must transfer your property into a trust and real estate must be retitled so that the owner of the property is the trust. No transfer of property is required when using a will.
Even though there are major differences between these two legal documents, both can work together to create a complete estate plan.
How do I pass down assets to my children?
You can pass assets to your children is either through a will or a trust. These documents will give you control of what happens to your assets.
The best way, however, to control how these assets flow to your children is through a trust.
A trust allows you to control how and when your children will receive their inheritance.