What are the 'Nuts & Bolts' of a Living Revocable Trust?

While you and your spouse are alive, you each serve as Trustees (or managers), maintaining absolute 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 and 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 associated with probate are avoided!

What can I expect an Estate Plan to cost me?

I, typically, do not charge for intitial consults, which average a couple of hours.  If you are willing to invest a couple of hours of your time, I'm willing to do the same.  After an initial consult, I, generally, can provide my prospective client with a proposed plan and quote them a reasonable flat fee for same.  At that time, they are free to hire me or not hire me.  I don't know how to be more fair than that.

Estate Plans shouldn't cost but a small fraction of what the attorney’s fees, court costs, taxes (potentially), and other expenses that are associated with probate will cost and that will occur if you pass without a good estate plan or with a Last Will and Testament, only.  Some people will say to me, "If I'm already gone, what do I care?"  Well, if you don't mind unecessarily lining the pockets of attorneys with money you've left behind that could have otherwise lined your children's pockets, then by all means, pass without a good estate plan... or pass with a Will, only.  You'll likely do just  that!

All Estate Planning packages are provided for a sensible Flat Fee, regardless of time spent with the client or time spent 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 plausible options based on costs, or much worse, whether to have an estate plan at all.   A good estate plan should be accessible and affordable to everyone!

What can my family expect if I die without an Estate Plan?

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 probate 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, neglect, or shear ignorance of the issue, there is absolutely no reason to allow any of your assets or your family to fall subject to probate!

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