Many people start the estate planning discussion by telling their lawyer what kind of documents they want, typically either a Will or a Revocable Living Trust along with a few other important documents. We believe this approach is backward. It’s like going to the doctor with a broken foot and telling her how you’d like to treat it, whether you want surgery or maybe just a cast.
The right documents to plan your estate can only be determined by taking a look at your circumstances – the specifics of your assets, your goals, your loved ones, and family circumstances. Once we explore your situation and goals, only then can an attorney make recommendations on how to meet your specific goals, given your specific circumstances.
There are some general guidelines that are helpful to understand regarding Wills and Revocable Living Trusts.
Last Will and Testament
A Will gives directions about how you want your assets divided upon your death. If you have minor children, it also nominates guardians for your children if you pass away before they turn 18. The Will does not prevent your estate from going through the probate process, it simply acts as a guide that the court will use if your estate goes through the probate process, or for your Personal Representative to carry out less formally if no probate is necessary. For more information about probate, see How to Avoid Probate.
A Will is not activated until you die. If you become incapacitated through an injury, illness, or disease, the Will does not offer any help. In that case, there are other documents you might need and they may or may not be effective. For a full explanation of those documents and the pros and cons, see Incapacity Planning.
Revocable Living Trust
A Living Trust is usually more expensive to set up than a simple Will-based plan, but typically saves a lot of money if you become incapacitated and when you die.
Ready to learn more? Don’t leave your legacy to chance.
Join us to learn about how your current plan, or lack thereof, will affect your family for years to come. This educational workshop will provide a wealth of information about your own personal Estate Planning situation. If you own a home or have combined assets worth at least $100,000, you owe it to yourself and your family to get the facts on proper estate planning. (If you think you’re protected with a simple Will, think again… a Will goes through probate, which means your family may not be able to take possession of your estate for many months or even years!
The workshop also covers powers of attorney and health care directives and why they are a crucial part of your estate plan. If you are married, we recommend that you both attend as we’ll be covering lots of information that will pertain to both of you.
Your attendance entitles you to a complimentary one-hour estate planning meeting with a Hammond Law Group Attorney within two weeks of attending a workshop ($400 value).