What Happens to Minor Children When There is No Estate Plan?

Estate Attorney

No child should be forced to face the loss of their parents. For an adult who has survived their loved ones, grief is a natural part of experiencing a loss. However, there are several key differences when an adult grieves the loss of a loved one. Although grief can be incredibly difficult to manage, most adults come equipped with the ability to appropriately make sense of their experiences. Additionally, they will likely know where they will be living because, in most cases, an adult is not dependent in the same way that a child is.

When one or both parents pass away, your child stands to face a series of unknowns, especially if there is no estate plan in place to outline the care of the child. If you are a parent of minor children, it’s important that you begin developing your estate plan as soon as possible with an estate attorney in Cherry Hill, NJ. No child or family should be forced to make plans for your children without your input.

Dying Intestate

When a person passes away intestate, they have died without a will or estate plan in place. As a result, many decisions are likely to be made by the probate courts. Without a will, the probate court will identify an executor or administrator to oversee your estate. They will also identify a guardian to take care of your children and a conservator to manage the financial aspects of their care. In some cases, the person selected may be one and the same, or, two people may carry each role separately.

The Best Interest of the Child

When a parent passes away without an estate plan, they will make decisions based on the best interest of the child. Losing both parents is a traumatic experience for a child. The court will work to appoint a guardian who is suitable to take on their care and, that can provide them with a transition of care that reduces the impact on the child. The guardian appointed is usually a person whom the child already has a strong relationship. Often, the family is looked to first to take on this responsibility.

You Lose Your Voice

You probably don’t want your family or a probate court making decisions regarding your child’s care. Without your estate plan, you lose your voice and ability to make a plan for the care of your children should you no longer be here to take care of them. Without an estate plan, there are a number of consequences your children and family stand to experience. They will be left to guess as to what your final wishes may have been. Your children may experience not only a sense of loss but unnecessary stress in not knowing where they will live or who will take care of them. One fairly significant unintended consequence is the likelihood for familial tensions to arise. It’s not uncommon for family members to disagree with how your estate plan should be managed. Don’t put your family at risk of experiencing fractured relationships amidst their grief, this can result in long-standing conflict within your family.

Contact an estate planning lawyer as soon as possible so that you may begin finalizing your final wishes. You owe it to your children to have a plan that safeguards their care for the future should you pass prior to their coming of age.

Thanks to Klenk Law for their insight into estate planning.

Where Should You Safekeep Original Estate Planning Documents?

Estate Planning Lawyers SafekeepingWhere is the best place to safekeep your original estate planning documents?  As Estate Planning attorneys we get this question all the time. Why in a safe, of course!  But, which safe and where? Estate planning clients invest a great deal of time into planning for their future and that of their offspring, dependents, spouses, pets, property, and charities.  Clients take the time to account for their property, arrange their affairs, and update their estate planning documents regularly. But after everything is in place, where should clients store their original documents to accomplish these goals?

Many people opt to lease a safe deposit box at their local bank.  While this option likely provides maximum security for documents stowed inside, we do not recommend people store original estate planning documents in this fashion.  Arizona Revised Statute § 6-1002 defines a landlord-tenant relationship to exist between the bank that owns a safe deposit box and the person who leases the box from the bank.  Furthermore, the same statute declares the person who leases the safe deposit box maintains legal possession of the contents inside. Taking these two statements together, a bank opening a safe deposit box to people claiming to be the survivors of a decedent, and allowing those people to take property belonging to the decedent who leased the box, is – legally – the same as a landlord opening an apartment of a deceased tenant to people who claim to be the tenant’s children and allowing them to take away the tenant’s property inside.

A related law, Arizona Revised Statute § 6-1008, provides guidance for banks on how to proceed when a safe deposit box lessee dies.  If someone approaches a bank claiming an interest in the contents of a deceased person’s safe deposit box, the statute allows, but does not require, a bank to open the safe deposit box and release estate planning documents and life insurance policies.  However, the statute also requires a bank to retain all other contents in the box and only deliver them to a person legally entitled to assume possession.  So while Arizona law allows a bank at its own discretion to release some limited estate planning and insurance documents, the weight of the law requires a bank to secure all other safe deposit box contents unless the person requesting them presents a court order granting permission.

Banks would expose themselves to unnecessary risk allowing even the possibility of releasing unauthorized safe deposit box contents without a court’s permission.  Therefore, banks generally adopt the most conservative approach and require a decedent’s survivors to produce a court order before allowing anyone to inspect or remove contents inside a decedent’s leased safe deposit box.  As a consequence, the limited provisions in Arizona law allowing a person to remove estate planning and insurance documents from a decedent’s safe deposit box tend not to work well in practice. So if a person who rented a safe deposit box dies, how do the survivors prove to a judge the estate planning documents grant them access to the box and ownership of the contents inside if the estate planning documents themselves are in the box?  The answer to this question generally involves hiring an attorney and paying hundreds or thousands of dollars to obtain the court order.

Alternatively, the attorneys at Citadel Law Firm recommend clients store their original estate planning documents in a private safe in their home.  Clients may even wish to keep a small safe at home that only holds their original estate planning documents and leave photocopies of the originals in a bank safe deposit box.  This small home safe may be left unlocked or locked, providing survivors are notified of the combination or given a key.  This arrangement allows trusted friends and relatives easy access to the original estate planning documents upon a person passing.  After reading the estate planning documents, survivors can easily identify and notify successor trustees and personal representatives named by the deceased.  Successor trustees and personal representatives should be able to access a decedent’s safe deposit box or property with the original estate planning documents.  But, if not, the cost of obtaining a court order to access a safe deposit box, or bank account, or other property will be expensive and time consuming.

The attorneys at Citadel Law Firm are available not only to consult on estate planning and document drafting to achieve clients’ goals, but also to advise on strategies to ensure your desires and intentions are implemented after death.  Everyone knows families that were torn apart after the death of a loved one. For families, often the management of a decedent’s affairs is even more emotionally taxing on everyone involved than the immediate sense of loss and grief. Keeping original estate planning documents readily available allows a decedent’s surviving loved ones to move beyond the loss and minimize risks of tensions within the family.

Thanks to our friends and contributors from Citadel Law Firm for their insight into estate planning.

 

Can I Prevent My Will From Being Contested?

Will Lawyer Roseville, CA

When people experience grief, naturally their emotions will be at an all-time high. As a result, family and loved ones stand to behave irrationally. In some cases, if a family member is dissatisfied with the will you have created, it could lead them to take steps towards contesting your will. This could result in those you have left inheritances to from obtaining what is rightfully theirs. A contested will can take years before reaching a resolution. This can be problematic in that expensive legal fees may incur as a result. Here are steps to take to mitigate the risk that your will is contested after you pass away:

Create a Well Executed Will

In order to prevent your will from being contested, it’s important that you create a will that is properly executed. An estate planning lawyer is the best option for making sure that you develop a will that leaves nothing up to the imagination. They can help to ensure that the proper steps are taken to creating a validated will.

Communicate Your Wishes

Once you have created a will, it’s important that you communicate its’ contents to family members. Giving family the opportunity to hear from you what your final wishes are will make them far less likely to dispute it. Conversations with family are key. As a result, they will know what to expect. Additionally, if you plan to appoint a family member as the executor or guardian of your children, you will want to make sure that you have had conversations with them regarding their willingness to do so. The last thing you will want is to name someone who may not be up for the responsibility these roles require.

Retain a Copy of Your Will in an Accessible Location

Once you have created your will with a lawyer, obtain a copy of it for your records. Keep this document in a place that is safe and accessible. Communicate the whereabouts of your will to the executor(s) you have identified to oversee your estate. This will make it easy for them to obtain it when they need to.

Utilize an Experienced Lawyer

It’s not uncommon for people to quickly create a will online in a pinch. Not only is this service far less expensive, but it can also feel less daunting. However, utilizing this type of service does not guarantee that there won’t be problems later on. The will you created may actually not be valid, or take into account the laws within your state. Utilizing an estate planning lawyer is the best way to safeguard your estate. They can help you by:

  • Securing Tax Benefits
  • Prevent Significant Court Fees Later On
  • Ensure That Nothing is Left Out
  • Protect Your Interests
  • Creating an Estate Plan that Outlines all Aspects of Your Estate

Aside from the significant amount of time it may take before a contested will finally reach a resolution, there are additional problems that are likely to result. Family tensions will be at an all-time high, which stands to have a serious impact on relationships moving forward. No decedent wants to leave families with fractured relationships that resulted over disagreements regarding the will. Take the right steps in creating a will that leaves nothing up for argument by working with a will lawyer Roseville, CA trusts with the experience you need.

Contact Yee Law Group for their insight into estate planning and preventing a will from being contested.

Creating a Trust: Common Questions Answered

Sacramento Trust Lawyer

Are you considering whether a revocable trust is something you should incorporate into your estate plan? An attorney can help you by reviewing your situation and helping to determine the right type of trust to create. It’s only natural that clients come to a lawyer with a number of questions regarding the process of creating a trust. The following are frequent questions answered.

What is a revocable trust?

A revocable trust can be a component to any estate plan that provides instruction for how you would like your assets managed after you pass away. When assets are in a trust, they are able to smoothly be transferred to your heirs after your death. A revocable trust can be flexible in that it allows you to make changes or cancel the trust at any point during your lifespan. As the trust maker, you will likely oversee your trust until the times comes for it to be managed by the trustee you have appointed.

What should I look for in a successor trustee?

The trustee is responsible for administering the trust. Within your trust, you will appoint a trustee who will take on this role once you are no longer able to do so. When appointing a successor trustee you have a number of options. You may choose a professional such as an attorney or financial organization to act as fiduciary, or, you can choose a friend or loved one to take on this responsibility. When appointing someone to take on this role, you will want to make sure that you choose wisely. A potential trustee should be:

  • Responsible
  • Organized
  • Trustworthy
  • Willing
  • Fair

When does the trustee begin managing the trust I have created?

In most cases, a trustee does not take over the administration of the trust until you either are incapacitated or pass away. Once this occurs, the trustee should begin taking on their role by gathering all necessary documents and information pertaining to the trust.

Who can I develop a trust for?

You can create a trust for any beneficiary you would like. In most cases, you will be doing so for a family member. Lawyers will work with you to determine who you would like to create the trust for to help in determining the right type of trust for your situation.

Do living trusts and estate plans go hand in hand?

In many cases, yes. Just because you have taken the time to create a living trust doesn’t mean that you do not still need to create a will. Both of these documents can be key to any estate plan.

Creating a trust account can be most helpful with the help of a lawyer who has experience in this area of practice. With the assistance of a Sacramento trust lawyer, they may assist you by reviewing your financial information and helping you to incorporate assets into the trust you are creating. They can help to provide you the assurances and support you need to seamlessly create a trust.

Contact Yee Law Group for their insight into estate planning and common trust questions.

Hiring an Attorney for Help to Create a Trust

Estate Attorney

Are you in the process of creating your estate plan? At some point during the process, you may learn that creating a trust can come with a number of benefits. A trust can be created at any point, but, it’s not uncommon for the question of whether to create a trust for beneficiaries to arise while creating your estate plan. In doing so, you are probably riddled with questions over how to get started and, whether doing so is the appropriate way of moving forward. An attorney can help to answer any questions you may have. They can assist you in setting up a trust that allows you to clearly outline your instructions, avoids probate and provides a smooth transition of the trust to beneficiaries.

How do I know which type of trust to choose?

When it comes to developing a trust, there are a number of trusts that a person may choose from. With so many options, it can be overwhelming to determine the type of trust that may be right for you and your family. Depending upon your needs and financial situation, the following trusts may be an option:

  • Testamentary Trusts
  • Living Trusts
  • Irrevocable Trusts
  • Revocable Trusts

It’s important to work with a professional who has experience in creating trusts. Perhaps one of the most widely utilized types of trusts are living trusts. A law firm has the experience to help review your estate to identify the right trust for you.

What should I come prepared with for my first meeting with a Law Firm?

When you arrive for your first meeting, be prepared to make important decisions regarding your estate. When creating a trust, we will ask you a variety of questions to gain a better understanding of your specific situation. Making such significant decisions can be difficult, however, many clients find that they experience relief once they have developed a plan for their assets. Key decisions we may ask you to make include:

  • Whether you and your partner will share the trust
  • Appointing a trustee to oversee the trust
  • Which assets should be included in the trust
  • Who will benefit from the trust
  • Appointing someone to manage the trust for beneficiaries who are minors

Don’t let the big decisions bog you down. An attorney can guide you by applying their vast knowledge and experience to your situation. They have the patience you need when faced with such significant decisions. If you need more time, they are happy to provide you with the space to slow things down and talk things over with your partner.

How long will it take to create a living trust?

For many, a living trust is an additional component to a person’s estate plan. The length of time to set up a living trust will depend upon your situation. If you have already made key decisions regarding appointments and how you would like your trust to be set up, an estate attorney St. Peters, MO relies on can help you efficiently create your trust.

Thanks to Legacy Law Center for their insight into estate planning and why to hire an attorney.

living trust lawyer sacramento ca

Why Prince Should Have Created a Living Trust

Our living trust lawyer at Yee Law Group focuses on estate planning and assisting those in our community who wish to protect their legacy for future generations. We work one-on-one with clients to provide the information they need to make informed decisions. Everyone’s needs are different because of their unique set of circumstances. Our living trust lawyer understands this and will present options that reflect the client’s best interests. Many people are hesitant to visit a living trust lawyer to plan their estate because they do not want to consider their eventual passing. However, as the old adage says, death and taxes are unavoidable. Though Yee Law Group can’t help you avoid death, we can certainly help your heirs avoid paying unnecessary taxes.

It’s unfortunate that the iconic entertainer known as Prince did not create a living trust before he passed away. If he had, he might have enjoyed several benefits as a result, including peace of mind of knowing that the best interests of those he loved would be protected after his death. However, he serves as a great example of how prevalent it is to not plan for the future, and yet how important it is to work with a living trust lawyer to do exactly that. We encourage you to contact our office and schedule an appointment to plan your estate. If Prince had created a living trust, the following scenarios would be very different.

Substantial and Valuable Assets

The more valuable assets and cherished possessions one owns, the more important it is to consider talking to a living trust lawyer from Yee Law Group about creating an estate plan. If Prince had created a living trust that took “ownership” of his assets, he would still have had control of those assets but they would not enter into probate after his death. The probate process prevents the assets from immediately transferring ownership to the specified heirs and subjects them to tax penalties.

Control Over One’s Living Trust

As mentioned, Prince would have retained control of his assets that were transferred into a revocable living trust. If at some point during his lifetime he wished to sell one or more of those assets, it would be a straightforward process with the help of a living trust lawyer. Adding assets to the trust is also a straightforward matter. In this way, a revocable living trust provides the best of both worlds: protection from inheritance taxes and control of the assets by the trustor.

Control Over Asset Distribution

In his living will, Prince could have specified who should inherit which of his assets, much like a will. This can minimize or eliminate possible confusion, angst, or anger about who should receive which assets, and how much of each asset such as cash, jewelry, vintage clothing, musical instruments, etc. When the deceased’s final wishes are clear in the form of a living trust, there is less likelihood of someone challenging it.

Yee Law Group: We Can Make the Future More Secure

To learn more about living trusts and whether or not they are the right solution for you and your heirs, contact our office today. Our living trust lawyer in Sacramento, CA will be pleased to provide you more information.

What You Need to Know About Living Trusts

Sacramento Estate Planning Lawyer

In creating a living trust, you are also providing for the financial future of your family members, friends, beloved pets, as well as charitable organization if you so choose. With the help of a living trust lawyer, the process of transferring your property and assets to the trust will be a straightforward manner. Even after they are managed by the trust, you will retain control of that property and assets. In addition, you can specify your spouse as a co-trustee so that they too will have control of your property and assets. If you have additional concerns or needs, talk to your living trust lawyer. They can develop a customized estate plan solution that can provide you with peace of mind and a carefully preserved legacy.

The Differences Between a Living Trust and a Will

When our living trust lawyer sits down with you and learns about your concerns, circumstances, and goals you will gain a greater understanding of the differences among the choices of estate planning tools. Here is a brief overview:

  • One of the primary differences between a will and a living trust is that wills are a matter of public record. A living trust is private from the moment it’s created until after your passing. This is advantageous for those who do not wish to proclaim sensitive or confidential information to the world. After all, the nature and amount of your assets is not anyone’s concern but your own. And who you name as your heirs is also not anyone else’s concern.  
  • When a will is the sole estate planning tool used by an individual, upon their passing their assets over a certain value will be forced to pass through the probate process which requires time, additional fees, and possible tax burdens. If you choose to place assets within a living trust, those assets will not have to go through probate.
  • A will enables you to name your choice for a guardian or guardians for your minor aged children in the event you pass away before they reach adulthood, or if you become incapacitated. This is not possible with a living trust. However, our living trust lawyer can create a will for you as well as a trust if you have minor children.

Bequeathing Property to Minors Using a Living Trust

If at the time of your passing you have minor-aged children to whom you wish to bequeath property, by law they cannot inherit it until the age they are considered an adult. Instead, the trustee you name for your living trust will manage the property or properties until such time that the minors reach adulthood. At that time, the living trust will expire (assuming all of the other assets have already been distributed). Alternately, you can instruct your Sacramento estate planning lawyer to specify that the now-minor aged child cannot the property until they have graduated university (post adult age).

Contact Yee Law Group, P.C. for their insight into estate planning and what to know about living trusts.

The Benefits of Creating a Living Trust

Living Trust Lawyer Folsom, CA

Many people choose to create a living trust for the many benefits it offers over a simple will. A will is also an important tool, but like any other tool, it is not a full estate planning solution. In this way, our trust lawyer can create a customized and full-featured blend of tools that will fully protect your final wishes and legacy. A living trust is an important component of an estate plan, and when you meet with our trust lawyer, your particular needs will be considered and addressed.

Living Trusts

In essence, in creating a living trust with the assistance of our trust lawyer, you will transfer the ownership of your assets and property to the living trust for the duration of your lifetime. After your passing, it will be a seamless process to transfer those same assets from your trust to your designated beneficiaries. Among the many living trust options available to you, are joint and individual living trusts. If you are single you may wish to choose an individual living trust. If you are married, you and your spouse may benefit from choosing to create a joint living trust. When you sit down with our trust lawyer, you can gain additional clarity with insight from a skilled legal professional.

The Benefits

As mentioned, there are many benefits of having a living trust in place. Your trust lawyer will review your circumstances and estate needs in detail prior to making recommendations to you. In this way, they can provide you with insight into the pros and cons of each option available. Insofar as the benefits of a living trust, here are some of the most common ones:

  • Assets transferred into a living trust can avoid going through the probate process before passing to heirs.
  • While the information contained within a will is a matter of public record, the details of a living trust will remain confidential.
  • Trustors who create a revocable living trust retain control of their assets throughout their lifetime. (Ask our trust lawyer about the differences between a revocable and an irrevocable living trust.)
  • When the trustor passes away, assets within the living trust may not be subject to estate taxes. In advance of creating your living trust, our trust lawyer can provide specific tax information as it pertains to your particular circumstances.
  • In creating a living trust, the trustor can name a trustee or secondary trustee who will make responsible decisions on their behalf should they later become physically or mentally incapacitated.
  • The assets transferred into a living trust can be protected from legal action and creditors. There are certain criteria that must be met and which can be explained by our trust lawyer.
  • A living trust can easily be amended with the help of our trust lawyer.

To learn more about whether or not a living trust is right for you, contact a living trust lawyer Folsom, CA relies on to schedule a consultation.

Contact Yee Law Group, P.C. for their insight into estate planning and the benefits of creating a living trust.

Can a living trust be helpful if a person becomes disabled or incapacitated?

Living Trust Lawyer Roseville, CA

As opposed to a will, a trust offers many advantages to the trustor as well as their heirs. In addition to allowing them to avoid going through the probate process, a trust enables them to inherit assets without paying taxes on them. Another important consideration when choosing whether or not to create a trust is the question of what happens to an individual’s assets and property should they become disabled or incapacitated. A living trust created with the help of a trust planning lawyer makes it possible to put plans into place in the event they are no longer able to make important life decisions. A living trust can protect their assets and property from unscrupulous persons who might seek to take advantage of their vulnerability. The sad truth of the matter is that this can happen to anyone. Talk to our trust planning lawyer to learn how we can help you and your heirs avoid this scenario.

When does a living trust go into effect?

As opposed to a will that goes into effect only after the person’s passing, a living trust goes into effect when it’s created by the trustor. In the scenario of the trustor becoming disabled or incapacitated, control of the trust will transfer to the trustee. If the trustor is the primary trustee, control will transfer to the secondary trustee. When you create the trust with the help of your trust planning lawyer you designate the trustee and a secondary trustee if you wish. You can change or update the trustees as needed.

How is it determined that I have become disabled or incapacitated?

In order to protect the trustor from getting taken advantage of by someone falsely accusing them of being disabled or incapacitated, your trust planning lawyer can put safeguards into place. For instance, you can specify two or three trustworthy physicians of your choice who must certify if you are indeed physically or mentally incompetent should you be accused as such. This also allows your specified trustee to avoid having to petition the Court to certify your incompetence. When the Court makes such a decision it becomes a public matter and your privacy will not be considered.

Are trusts taxed?

For as long as you are the trustee of your own trust, it will not be taxable. However, should you become disabled or incapacitated and your secondary trustee takes over control of the trust, they will be required to file an annual income tax return on behalf of the trust.

Learn More About Living Trusts and If They Are Right for You

A living trust lawyer Roseville, CA offers works with individuals and families to create the estate plans that reflect their wishes and goals for their legacy. We can make the process trouble-free and painless. Call us today to schedule an appointment with our skilled trust planning lawyer.

Contact Yee Law Group, P.C. for their insight into estate planning and how a living trust can be helpful.

Do I Need to Have A Trustee for While I’m Alive?

Estate Lawyer

Appointing a Trustee over your assets while your still living can be a difficult decision to make. Ultimately, the responsibilities of a Trustee are to manage your assets, pay your bills, and essentially is the person to go to in the event that you need access to funds.

Therefore, in making the decision as to whom your Trustee should be you most definitely would want to consider access. It is recommended that your Trustee live within the same State as you, but ultimately ease of access is something to consider also.

If your Trustee lives out of State or even in a different county than what you reside in; you may want to consider the fact that if an emergency situation arose, how willing would your Trustee be to travel to you? Accidents and occasions that we do not plan for often arise and you need to ensure that you have access to finances in the event that these situations arise.

A major factor to consider also is that you do not want to appoint your cousin that has financial problems as your Trustee, or your brother that has a gambling addiction. Even though a Trustee has legal obligations and could face legal ramifications from mismanagement of your funds, you want to make the best educated option for your Trustee.

Someone that is willing to assist you that is trustworthy, reliable, and flexible would be the best options to think about when coming to the final decision as to whom your Trustee should be. This person does not have to have college experience or be a third party that charges a fee to manage your Trust either. You can appoint a lifelong friend, family member, or even consult with an Attorney to be your Trustee.

The only major factor again, is someone that you know you can count on and be flexible with your current needs. As we age, you are able to amend your Trust as long as it is a Revocable one to appoint different Trustee’s for the duration of your lifetime. Ultimately the end goal is to have you feel comfortable with the decision you’ve made in appointing your Trustee.

It is typically recommended that as long as you are able to maintain control over your finances then you should exercise that right personally. Discussing your estate and finances with an estate planning lawyer Arlington, TX relies on that has the best knowledge and expertise within the field would be able to advise you more in depth to possible alternatives in the event of your incapacity. This will allow you the peace of mind knowing that you made the best decision for your assets and investment within your finances.

 


 

Thank you to our friends and contributors at Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC for their insight into appointing a trustee and estate planning.