Fundamental Estate Planning – Wills & Trusts
When people come to our office for planning, the first question they always have is “What is the difference between a Will and a Trust? And what do I need?”
We strive to make the complex simple and guide our clients to find the answer that best meets their individual needs. That being said, there are a few documents that every estate plan should have and should have reviewed on a regular basis.
What are these essential documents?
A Will – everyone needs a Will of some kind
Medical Power of Attorney or Advance Health Care Directive – Allowing someone to make medical decisions when you are not able
Financial Power of Attorney – Allowing someone to make financial decision when you are not able to or if you ask them to
- HIPAA authorization that allows a loved one or friend to access your medical information; and
A Trust – (to manage, protect, and distribute your assets and most importantly have your estate avoid probate court when you pass away. Why would you want your estate to avoid probate court? Probate fees range average about 5% percent of the gross value of your estate. So you have a home with a gross value of $300,000 than probate fees could be $15,000. We can also help your loved ones with the administration of your trust which is generally a straight forward inexpensive process as compared to probate.
A living will – if you are brain dead or in a vegetative state what do you want to happen to your body.
The Trust which is the most important of all of these documents. These come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Generally speaking, a trust is like a bucket. When you are alive it is your bucket, you fill it with all of your assets (house, car, bank accounts, Life Insurance etc.). While you are alive, you can do whatever you want to with your bucket – it’s YOUR bucket after all! When you pass or become incapacitated, the person you appointed as a Trustee will read the instructions on the side of the bucket and control the spicket to make sure things flow where you want them to flow.
Depending on your circumstances, there could be advantages to establishing a trust. The most common advantage is avoiding probate. This can help streamline administration of your estate should you become incapacitated and upon your death, keeping your plans private in the process. Trusts can help protect your children from losing their inheritance due to divorce, lawsuits, squandering, or creditors.
What type of plan is right for you?
It depends on a great many factors. We would be happy to help guide you through the planning process and help you create a simple plan that meets your needs. Request a consultation with Mentis Law Group today.