Making a will and estate planning can be stressful things to do, but ultimately, it will help and protect the ones you love the most. This is why we decide to get some more information from the experts on the topic. See what we learned below.
Why make a Will?
Every adult should have a Will, to make sure your assets are distributed the way that you would wish. Many of us put off doing a Will, but if you don’t leave a Will, the law decides how your estate is passed on – and this may not be in line with what you would want.
So why do you need a Will?
- So that your assets are distributed according to your wishes.
- So your loved ones can be provided for
- So that charities close to your heart can receive a gift
- To appoint executors
- To appoint guardians for your children
- To minimize inheritance tax
having a valid will makes it much easier for your family or friends to sort everything out when you die – without a will, the process can be time-consuming and stressful for those that have to deal with settling an estate after a loved one has gone.
Your will tells people two important things:
- Who should have your money, property, and possessions – your estate – when you die.
- Who will be in charge of organizing your estate and following the instructions you leave in your will – the executor or executors.
Within your will, you can include details about any other wishes you may have, such as instructions for your burial or cremation, and preferences as to your funeral arrangements
Your executor will do their best to make sure your wishes are followed, as long as it doesn’t involve breaking the law.
Writing a will is particularly important if you have children or other family members who depend on you financially.
Most people have pretty straightforward affairs and these days they can get their Wills written online in less than 15 minutes – a small investment in time for true peace of mind.
Carl Christensen – Quick Will www.quickwill.com
Who needs a Last Will and Testament?
The answer is every single adult. There is absolutely never a situation where dying without a Will is a plan. It is always a bad situation. The other estate planning documents are a financial Power of Attorney and a Living Will. These documents are a very good idea, but you could argue that they are not as vital as a Will. If you are ever incapacitated the documents are vital, but you may never find yourself in that situation, so they may never be used.
But some people think of “estate planning” as the smart management of your assets to maximize the value of your assets for your family and other beneficiaries.
Who needs Estate Planning?
Anybody with sufficient assets where the financial benefits of the estate planning outweigh the costs of your planner, in the same way as paying for an accountant.
Tim Hewson – https://www.uslegalwills.com/
How do I leave specific items to specific heirs?
Leaving specific tangible items can be simple, yet perhaps the most important part of your estate plan. This is your chance to leave your legacy or family heirlooms to the right people. In Florida, the easiest way is to prepare a Last Will or Living Trust with an incorporated Memorandum of Tangible Items (“Memorandum”). A Memorandum is a separate sheet that will be referenced in your Last Will or Living Trust and will provide space for you to describe the items you wish to leave and the person to whom you wish to leave it. Using a Memorandum will allow you to add or remove items and/or to change the person to whom you wish to leave the items more freely. The Memorandum should be signed by you and two witnesses.
A Memorandum is preferred because a Last Will or Living Trust carries strict requirements and constantly revising a Last Will or Living Trust, especially with an attorney, can become extraordinarily costly. While it is recommended you have an experienced attorney draft your Last Will or Living Trust, the Memorandum can be completed on your own and revised as necessary. Some attorneys may properly advise you to include this type of Memorandum at the time of execution of your Last Will, but others may not. Unfortunately, a standalone Memorandum not incorporated as part of your Last Will or Living Trust is not sufficient and cannot be used in the place of a Last Will or Living Trust.
Finally, it should be noted that any items of high value such as artwork, collectibles, digital assets (e.g. NFT), or high-end jewelry should be specifically devised within a Last Will or Living Trust, instead of a Memorandum, in order to ensure the use of greater specificity than that which is ordinarily provided in a Memorandum. Unfortunately, the higher the value of the items, the more likely it is that another family member may want to contest the validity of the Memorandum out of jealousy, disappointment, etc. Therefore, in some instances, a Memorandum is not preferred as you would not want to give anyone the opportunity to contest certain highly valued items which you wish to leave. There may also be tax advantages or disadvantages that should be considered and discussed.
It is highly recommended that you consult with a local experienced estate planning attorney in your State (there are many state-specific laws that can apply in your situation) in order to address all of your specific needs, concerns, and options.
Jacqueline R. Bowden Gold – https://www.rblawfl.com/
What’s the Difference Between a Living Trust and a Will?
Wills and trusts are both essential estate planning tools that state your wishes regarding the guardianship of your minor children and the distribution of your assets and property to your heirs after you die. A will is enacted after you die, while a trust becomes active the day that you create it. Both of these legal documents will transfer assets to your heirs; however, only a trust will allow you to give direction as to how you wish to be cared for and how your assets are managed in the event you become incapacitated and bypass probate court and the probate process after you pass away.
A will (also known as a Last Will and Testament) may be an effective way to transfer assets to heirs. However, the estate will need to go through probate and be part of the public record. With a will, you’ll most likely need a probate attorney and the process could be quite lengthy and costly depending on the complexity of your estate.
With a trust, the Grantor gives a Trustee (a fiduciary that you select) the legal right to hold your property or assets for the benefit of your beneficiaries (often, your children or other family members). Trusts can be either revocable or irrevocable, and each type comes with a variety of advantages and disadvantages. Trusts offer more control of your assets and require more active management than wills, yet they may be more expensive to set up. A revocable living trust can help you avoid probate court. It’s called a “living” trust because it’s created when the Grantor is alive and can be revocable or changed during the Grantor’s life. With a living trust, the Grantor retains ownership of his or her property while he or she is alive and competent, but the assets and property in the trust pass immediately and directly to beneficiaries in the manner directed by the Grantor when the Grantor dies.
Before choosing a will or trust, it’s important to seek professional advice and guidance from an estate and tax planning attorney regarding your specific situation. For more information about wills and trusts, contact Stuart Morris or the attorneys at Morris Law Group at (561) 750-3850 or visit www.Law-Morris.com.
Stuart R. Morris, Esq., CPA, B.C.S. www.law-morris.com
What is estate planning? I am not wealthy. Do I need to have an estate plan?
Estate planning is best defined as legal preparation for the distribution of your assets on your death. Regardless of wealth, every adult should have an estate plan. Wealth perhaps determines the complexity of the plan. Estate plans can range from a simple will to a complicated trust. A simple will package is easy to do – with or without help from an attorney.
Of course, I recommend that you always get help from an attorney licensed in your particular state. It’s worth every cent to have it done correctly the first time and you will rest easier knowing that your heirs will not have to spend thousands of dollars on legal fees for straightening out what could have been simplified with a four-page will. Trusts are more complicated, but they are helpful in different situations. For example, a person (the “settlor”) is married for the second time and has children from a previous marriage to whom most of the assets will be distributed upon the settlor’s death. Or, there are business assets to be distributed at the time of death of the settlor. Or, there is a member of the family with special needs who will need care over the course of a lifetime. It’s sometimes much easier for the heirs to have the assets all in one trust, rather than with different banks or companies or wealth management agencies. In my opinion, it is well worth the minimal fee to consult with a legal professional in your jurisdiction regarding the best plan for you and your family.
Mary T. Hone Honelegal.com
What makes up a well-designed estate plan?
Having a well-thought-out estate plan essentially eases the burden of your loved ones who will inherit your assets, and can also help save you from administrative and legal problems should you fall ill.
When you have a clear plan in place, it means that all of your assets have been legalized and beneficiaries confirmed. An estate plan also helps you and your loved ones understand the best course of action to take.
A well designed, comprehensive estate plan should accomplish these four primary goals:
- Define how assets will be managed/distributed after the death of the grantor (the person creating an estate plan).
- Define who will be in charge of the assets.
- Minimize the expense and effort required to implement the estate plan (taxes, attorney fees).
- Establish who will make legal, financial, and medical decisions if the grantor is incapable.
Creating an estate plan is an important investment in your future and will most likely save your beneficiaries a ton of time, money, and emotional stress. Perhaps most importantly, having an estate plan will help you to streamline the probate process and help prevent unnecessary costs and delays.
Here are some of the benefits of having an estate plan:
- Ensures that all of your assets are divided properly
- Minimizes taxes and other costs associated with end of life
- Ensures that laws aren’t going to supersede your preferences
- Makes sure your family is clear on what is to be passed on or divided
- Makes sure the estate is transferred quickly and efficiently
- Helps all parties get clear on current asset management
- Ensures that your family is protected should the estate holder fall ill
- Helps ensure that all parties have access to correct and updated documents (Enduring Power of Attorney, Trusts, Last Will and Testament)
- Helps ensure that taxes are handled
- Helps to ensure that expenses directly related to death (such as funeral costs) are managed appropriately and in advance
-Byron Batres ez-probate.com
What questions should I ask my estate planning attorney? So that I can find someone I can trust.
To determine whether the attorney you would like to hire has the skill, knowledge, and ability to assist you with your estate planning, here are some simple questions you should ask your estate planning attorney during your initial consultation.
What is included in an Estate Plan?
The documents that every person should have as part of their estate plan are a Last Will and Testament, a General Power of Attorney, a Healthcare Power of Attorney, and a Living Will. There may be additional documents necessary depending on your family demographics. For example, if you have a family member who is disabled a Special Needs Trust to provide for your family member may be included in your plan. Further, if you own multiple businesses or real estate, it may be worthwhile to discuss other types of trusts in order to preserve your assets for your family. Every estate plan is unique in that we create the plan based on our client’s particular circumstances and the goals they wish to achieve through their plan.
How do you charge for Estate Planning?
An important question to ask your estate planning attorney is how they charge for estate planning. Many estate planning attorneys charge a flat fee for the work that they do. When working with a good estate planning attorney, however, they will not provide a quote for their services until after they have spoken with the prospective client and understand what the client hopes to achieve through their plan. The attorney will provide an initial consultation to review your family demographics as well as the client’s goals with the estate plan before providing you with a quote.
If you speak with an attorney that will provide an estate plan at an hourly rate, think about contacting another attorney. Further, if the attorney you speak with says something along the lines of, we will provide you with our invoice at the end of the process but is not upfront with you, you should consider contacting a different attorney.
How to handle updating my Estate Plan?
Life changes and new laws can be passed without any notice, so it makes sense that even the best-drafted estate plan would need revisions. When looking for an attorney to handle your estate plan, you should work with an attorney that has a plan in place to keep communication open after the estate plan is complete. Then if a life change occurs or a new law is passed that would affect your estate plan, you have open communication with the attorney to update your plan as needed.
How long will it take to complete the Estate Planning process?
There is no right or wrong answer to this question and depends on the client. You should take as little or as much time as needed to complete your estate plan. Agreeing on a timeline with your attorney from the beginning can prevent the process from being delayed. Typically, it takes around three to four weeks from the date of the initial consultation to when you would receive the fully executed Estate Planning documents.
Michael Cherewka https://www.cherewkalaw.com/
Can I figure out an estate plan all by myself? What would you recommend?
A template estate plan will not push you to think through answers to the tough questions. That said, self-prepared wills and trusts are valid, so long as they comply with certain legal requirements.
To decide whether to “DIY” your estate plan, ask yourself these questions:
- Do you and your spouse agree about how to pass on community property? If you have different priorities, an estate planning lawyer can help you reconcile them.
- Do you have minor children? When will the child inherit? What will happen with the assets in the meantime? Who will the guardian be? Will the chosen guardian need time to organize their affairs before taking on the guardianship? If so, who will be the temporary guardian?
- Do you have a blended family? To ensure proper distribution of assets to offspring, your estate plan needs precise wording and careful examination of the relationships.
- Do you have a child who will need long-term care due to a disability? If your child gets public assistance like SSI and Medi-Cal, then you should get an estate planning attorney’s assistance to set up a special needs trust.
- Do you have an especially large estate? The larger the estate, the greater the value of professional guidance – to protect your assets and to ensure that your wishes are followed.
- Do you anticipate any challenges to your will? If you have any controversial bequests – like disinheritance – then an airtight estate plan will help prevent conflicts after you die.
- Do you plan on charitable giving? There are specific types of trusts and planned giving that can save taxes.
- Do you own a small business? Consider consulting an estate planning attorney about business succession issues.
- Is there any international aspect to your life or your estate? Examples include: your parents are in a foreign country; you are in the United States on a work visa; and/or you own property in another country.
If any of these situations apply to you, then relying on a template estate plan could do more harm than good. I suggest that you consult an estate planning attorney so that you fully understand the complexities of your situation. If you need assistance with estate planning in California, my law office is available.
Janet L. Brewer
Law Office of Janet L. Brewer
Palo Alto, CA
Who should I name as the executor of my will?
You should always consider what we consider the 4 essentials of naming an Executor:
- Responsible Parties only
- People in Good Financial Standing,
- At least One Younger Successor no less than 20 years younger than you; and
- Location does not matter as long as they are residing in any of the United States- they do not have to live in the same state as you in order to qualify as your executor
Russel Morgan – Morgan Legal Group