1. What is a Revocable or Living Trust?
A legal document that is created to” hold” or transfer property into the Trust. A Revocable or Living Trust can be changed at any time. A person who sets up the Trust is a Trustor, and he is also the Trustee if he manages the assets in the Trust. When a person sets up a Trust he needs to retitle the property he owns personally in the name of the Trust. This is known as funding the Trust. A Living Trust is the main way to avoid Probate as long as assets are titled in the Trust and there is a Successor Trustee to the Trust. Then the Successor Trustee literally steps into the Trustees shoes and distributes the assets according to the Trust. Deciding whether a Living Trust is right for you depends on your goals and plans for your family. The main goal is to protect and provide for your family in the best way possible.
2. What is a Will?
A legal document where you designate your heirs and what happens to the assets in your estate. You determine who will receive a certain percentage of your assets or even specific assets. Additionally, you will choose a Personal Representative who will handle the distribution of your estate assets. If you have any minor children you can name a Guardian to raise your children and a Conservator to manage assets for your children. Many people think that by having a Will they avoid Probate. However, a Will guarantees that your estate WILL go through the Probate process before your heirs can receive their inheritance.
3. What happens if I die without a Will or Trust in place?
The legal term for dying without a plan in place is called intestate. Basically the state has a plan for you if you don’t. If you do not have a written Will your estate will be distributed according to inheritance laws. More than likely, this will NOT be according to your desires.
4. What is a Durable Power of Attorney for Assets?
This document identifies who ( the agent ) will manage assets for you in the event of your incapacity. Your agent has the authority to write checks, pay bills, file income tax, file for government benefits, banking, buy and sell property if necessary, conduct business for your best interest and welfare. Incapacity is normally determined by written notice of 2 physicians. With a married couple, spouses usually name each other as agent then name at least one alternate.
5. What is a Power of Attorney for Health Care?
This document identifies who would make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable for any reason to do so. This document is very important because it allows you to make decisions ahead of time on what kind of care you would want or not want if life sustaining treatment was necessary.
6. Do I need to name a Guardian for minor children?
Absolutely positively yes. This is the most important decision you can make because you are naming someone to raise your children if you die. You do not want to leave this up to chance or just expect someone to automatically take the role of Guardian. If there is not a Guardian in place then a Judge in Probate Court would decide what is in the best interests of your children. You can name a Guardian for minor children in a Will. Here is a scary statistic: over 60% of people with minor children DO NOT have a Will in place.