It’s sometimes assumed that estate planning is a fairly straightforward affair: You draw up a will. You decide who gets what when you die. You dot your I’s and cross your t’s. And that’s pretty much that.
Actually, estate planning encompasses a wide number of concerns. It’s not just about your monetary assets. It’s about guardianship for your children. It’s about end-of-life care decisions for you and your partner or spouse. And it’s about minimizing tax burdens.
Given the complexity, it makes sense to sit down with a wills, trusts, and estates attorney. There are several questions you might ask to ensure you’re making fully informed decisions on behalf of your loved ones. Here are just five examples.
1) What are the benefits of wills versus trusts?
While most estate planning activity includes a discussion of a will, you may actually be better off establishing a trust. A trust allows you to shield your estate from the probate court, and also preserve some confidentiality. Is a trust right for you? And if so, are you better off with a living trust? A revocable or an irrevocable one? A wills and trusts lawyer can advise you.
2) Do I need a power of attorney? What about an advanced healthcare directive?
In meeting with an estate planning attorney, it’s recommended that you discuss your options for ensuring end-of-life medical wishes are upheld. For example, if you fall into a coma, do you want life support systems to be used? At what point do you wish for breathing machines and feeding tubes to be removed? You can outline your preferences with an advanced health directive and/or a power of attorney. Ask your estate planning attorney for further information.
3) Do I need a trustee? Who should serve as my trustee?
Depending on what kind of trust you set up, you may need to find a third party to manage the funds and perform key fiduciary duties on behalf of your beneficiaries. A will and trust attorney can advise you on whether you need to find a trustee, and who that individual should be. You can also ask your wills and trusts lawyer to coach your chosen trustee on all the position’s key duties and responsibilities.
4) How can I avoid estate tax and probate tax?
One of the most important aspects of estate planning is preserving the value of your assets. In doing so, you can ensure the most generous possible legacy for the people you love. There are a number of tax strategies that can be useful, including the selection of the right kind of trust. Ask your lawyer for guidance.
5) What assets may be placed into my living trust?
Most of your assets can be put into a living trust, though there may be some exceptions, including life insurance and certain types of retirement accounts. Generally, you’ll want to place as many assets as you can into the trust. Again, ask your attorney for further insight.
These are just a few examples of the kinds of queries you might bring to a living wills attorney.
At Singh Law Firm, we boast ample expertise in will contract law. But more than that, we’re known for our friendly, relational, and client-oriented approach. We’d love to answer any questions you have about wills, trusts and estate attorney, and whatever else.
Ready to speak to an attorney, or to hire a wills and trusts lawyer? Reach out to the team at Singh Law Firm today.