When and how should you update your estate plan?

When and how should you update your estate plan?

Updating one’s estate plan is usually not a complicated act when working with an estate-planning attorney. Depending on what has already been drafted, there are different options available. I recommend to all my clients that they should review their plans periodically. A very general rule to go by is that you should change your documents any time they are no longer what you want. Some obvious times when you should review you estate plan is any major change in your family – such as marriage, divorce, death, adoption, birth, etc. If one of your successor trustees or guardians for your minor children can no longer fulfill his or her responsibilities (because of a move away, become ill or die or change their mind), you should replace them. It is important to know that when you do need to change something in your estate plan, do not write on the original documents. Once you have signed the documents and it has been notarized, it must not be altered. If you need to change anything, an attorney will need to prepare an amendment to your documents that will be signed by you, have the proper amount of witnesses, and notarized to be valid in the state of...
How much should I own before it’s worth it for me to have a revocable trust?

How much should I own before it’s worth it for me to have a revocable trust?

There really is no set dollar amount before it makes sense for you to incorporate a revocable trust into your estate plan. Whether you are married or single, old or young, have a small or large estate, just about everyone can derive some benefit from a revocable trust. A properly drafted, fully funded revocable trust can eliminate probate costs; and depending on the size of your estate, it can also reduce federal estate taxes (Currently the federal estate tax is $5 million dollars, however Congress could lower that amount at any time to try and capture more taxes from smaller estates that are not organized to protect them). Generally, the larger your estate, the more money a trust can save your family. The biggest reasons individuals or families choose to use a trust is that regardless of the size of the estate, probate is slow and expensive and does not provide any creditor protection after your death; nor does your family have any privacy or control, and it can easily be contested in court. An additional benefit of using a trust is the protection it provides you against probate court while you are still alive. If, unfortunately, you ever become physically or mentally incapacitated, which is a real concern for millions of older Americans, having a trust prevents a court conservatorship because your successor trustee may step in at that point and handle your finances for you. If you have any questions about your Estate Plan, please don’t hesitate and contact me...
Should I have a revocable living trust in my estate plan?

Should I have a revocable living trust in my estate plan?

A revocable living trust is a document that I can put together based on how you want to leave your estate. It is called a revocable living trust because you make the document when you are alive, you put your assets into it while you are alive and it can distribute your estate while you are alive, however it can be changed at any time with an amendment.   The up front cost of making a revocable living trust is more than a traditional will, but the benefits far outweigh the added expense.   My clients who do choose this document usually do so because it protects their assets and heirs from the expense and delay of the probate process.  It is also very beneficial in protecting the interests of young children.   Although a trust is a great estate planning tool, I do not recommend a revocable living trust to every single client that comes to my office. For some, it is not worth the expense and time it takes to transfer assets into the trust. That is one reason it is so hard to quote fees over the telephone. I really need to sit down with you and have a one on one interview to figure out the best course of action. EVERY estate plan that I write is different.  That is the most important reason why I would not recommend a service like LegalZoom where you can not get your documents tailored to your specific needs.   Please let me know if you have any questions  regarding a living trust or are interested in sitting down and...