While you and your spouse are alive, you each serve as Trustees, maintaining absolute ownership and power over your money and assets that have been placed into your Trust;
You maintain the ability to buy, sell, and transfer assets;
When you and your spouse have both passed, your Estate Plan takes over and sees that your home, cars, bank accounts, and other assets are properly maintained until they can be distributed to your children (or other beneficiaries) if they are of an appropriate age, or if they are not, then your money and assets are held in your Trust for the benefit of your children and are paid out to your children under whatever circumstances you direct. In the latter case, a Successor Trustee pre-appointed by you manages your Trust assets according to your direction for the benefit of each child;
Your Estate Plan will also come into play in the event you become incapacitated for whatever reason so that your money and assets are continually managed and protected and used for your benefit and welfare; and
The time, cost, and publicity of probate are avoided!
I have, perhaps, the most restricted law practice in the area. Roughly ninety percent of my practice consists of probate-avoidance driven estate planning, with the balance spent helping clients with uncontested family law matters, only. This business model is by design. Because I never deal with disagreeable opposing parties, opposing counsel that is always trying to 'derail the train', over-crowded court dockets, etc., my practice is exceptionally manageable, allowing me to keep my overhead at a minimum and, thus, my fees relatively low. It does sometimes require a client (or prospective client) to leave a voicemail, but my clients learn very soon that messages will be returned very soon and, more importantly, my clients are always dealing directly with me, their attorney.
In short, Estate Plans should cost a mere fraction of the attorney’s fees, court costs, taxes (potentially), and other expenses associated with probate that will occur if you pass without an Estate Plan or with a Last Will and Testament, only – spend a little now, save your family a bundle later;
All initial consults are FREE. Moreover, if you present something to me that is beyond my expertise, I am always quick to make a good referral. Insuring, first, that the prospective client is in front of the right attorney is always most important;
All Estate Planning packages are provided for a sensible Flat Fee, regardless of time spent with the client or drafting the Estate Plan. Flat fees vary depending on the complexity of the overall plan. I, however, make a conscious effort to price plans in a way so that the client is not picking and choosing between options based on costs. A good estate plan should be accessible and affordable to everyone!
Will (usually a Pour Over Will);
Trust (usually a Living Revocable Trust);
Durable Power of Attorney (for personal and business affairs);
Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care (also called a Health Care Proxy);
Living Will (to give guidance to your Health Care Proxy and doctors);
HIPAA Waiver (granting access to yor medical records/information);
Final Disposition (Do you want to be buried, cremated, etc.);
Transfer Deed(s) (used to fund your Trust); and
Various other documents associated with the Trust Agreement
A percentage of the money and assets you intended to go to your children (or grandchildren) will likely go, instead, to a probate lawyer for 'probating' your estate (typically 3% to 5% of the combined gross value of all your assets at the date of your death!);
Your children may have to wait... and wait... and wait to access any of your money or assets. Probate proceedings involving real estate often last 18-24 months!; and
A breeding ground may be created for disagreement and turmoil amongst your children, beneficiaries, heirs, etc.
In short, absent oversight and/or neglect, there is absolutely no reason to allow any of your assets or your family to fall subject to probate!
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Most attorneys can deliver decent advice and decent documents. The attorney/client relationship, however, is also (and maybe even moreso) key to overall client satisfaction. For this to happen, the attorney must be easily accessible. This may be where I have distinguished myself the most from other attorneys. My clients come to know that they can have my time and attention when needed. They are confident that I will return their voicemail, e-mail, or text that very day, and usually within a few minutes or couple of hours. And, if they want to sit across from me at my conference table, they know they have that option, too, and almost always within a day or two of their request. If you'd like to learn more about my services, please fill out this quick contact form to schedule your free initial consultation.