Estate Planning Frequently Asked Questions
Estate planning is a complex process that contains many layers of questions that need to be answered. Our attorneys do their best to answer questions and help you understand your best options. We have included some of our most commonly asked questions below and also have a playlist of videos with many more answers to additional elder law questions online too.
Click on the linked questions below to quickly navigate to their answers:
Q. What Is Estate Planning?
- It’s important to have an elder law attorney or estate planning attorney guide you through the process of handling your legal affairs well in advance for your future needs. Through estate planning, you will clearly decide and dictate your desires for choices in the future that make it easier for your family members to handle.
Q. Why Should I Have A Will?
- Establishing a will lets the world know exactly what you want to happen with your assets and puts someone in charge to make sure that this happens. This makes it easier for your family to understand and avoid conflicts.
Q. Why Should I Make A Living Trust?
- The primary reason is to avoid probate. A lot of our clients like to plan ahead and make sure that money given to their children or grandchildren are protected by a living trust. They might have a trust for them built in that says it will pay for medical needs up until a certain age at which they'll begin to receive income and assets from the trust and possibly pay it out when they're even older.
Q. Who Should Have A Revocable Living Trust?
- A revocable living trust is an invaluable document to have to care for your loved ones were something to happen to you so you would leave money to them. If you have children or grandchildren and you want to leave money to them in structured ways to make sure that the money doesn't get squandered but it's protected for their needs and that they'll receive the money at a certain age. Also if you have any beneficiaries that might be in difficult marriages, have special needs, be disabled, have creditor issues you may want to have certain protections built into a trust to make sure that before monies are distributed to them, they're protected.
Q. Who Should Be My Executor Personal Representative Or Trustee?
- The first characteristic you want in an executor or trustee is that you truly trust them because when you're not here or you're incapacitated, this person will manage your affairs and you'd want them to execute your wishes completely. The second thing to look at would be to make sure you pick someone that's an organized person, someone that can balance their own checkbook so that they go through this process and represent you well.
Q. Where Should I Keep My Estate Planning Documents?
- You want a safe place but also an accessible place. The reason you need it to be accessible is that a lot of these documents like a healthcare surrogate or a power of attorney involve someone helping you out in your time of need. One thing I tell my clients is that if you're naming a power of attorney or you're naming a healthcare surrogate, you should go ahead and let them have a copy of those documents if you trust them with the document. This way, if an emergency comes up, finding your documents is not an issue. Many clients use a lockbox and will talk to their kids about how to access that box if needed, they may also have a safe deposit box at a bank and put the name of their child on that box that will help them with decisions.