Frequently Asked Questions / Estate Planning
What is estate planning?
Estate planning is the process of getting your affairs in order to ensure
the protection of your legacy. Estate Planning includes wealth preservation,
incapacity planning, children/beneficiary protection as well as tax, medical
and business planning.
Who needs estate planning?
Everyone – regardless of the size of their estate needs an estate
plan. Start your estate planning if you want to determine who receives
your assets should you become unable to do so. Estate planning is especially
important if you have children and grandchildren. If you fail to plan
ahead, you risk the state handling your assets.
What is involved in estate planning?
To start, ask yourself the following questions:
- What are your assets (property) and what are their approximate values?
- Who should receive said assets and when do they receive them?
- Who should manage those assets if you cannot
- Who should be responsible for taking care of your children should you become
unable to do so yourself?
- Who should make decisions on your behalf concerning your care and welfare
should you become unable to do so on your own?
You may find that these questions hard to answer, but it is crucial that
you begin the process of estate planning sooner rather than later. The
lawyers at Atlantis Law will help guide you through planning your estate.
What is included in my estate?
Your estate includes all assets held in your name. Your assets could be:
bank accounts, real estate, stocks and bonds, cars, jewelry and furniture.
In addition, your assets may include life insurance, retirement accounts,
payments that are due to you (inheritance, tax refund, or outstanding loans).
How should I plan for minor children?
If you have children under the age of 18, you should appoint a guardian
to supervise and care for you children. Minors are not qualified to care
for themselves nor are they qualified to manage their own property. By
appointing a guardian you will determine who can manage and care for your
children and their assets until they reach the legal age.
Who should be my trustee or executor?
Your trustee or executor should be organized, honest, and responsible.
They will ensure your written instructions are followed should you become
incapacitated. You could name your spouse, relative, family friend, or
a professional fiduciary to act as your trustee or executor.
What is a Will?
A will is a legal document that dictates the distribution of your assets
and the care of your children. A will also names an executor who will
oversee the management and distribution of your estate. By pre-determining
the distribution of your estate and the would-be guardians of your children,
you can ensure a smoother transition when the time comes to enact your
will. If you choose not to have a will, then the state will oversee the
distribution of your assets.
What is a trust?
A Trust is an estate planning tool that will ensure your wishes concerning
your property are carried out effectively. This legal document involves
three parties: grantor, trustee, and beneficiaries. As a grantor, you
will create a trust that lists assets you would like to include. Your
assets could include real estate, life insurance, cars, and bank accounts.
In your trust, you will appoint a trustee who will oversee the management
of your property. You can appoint yourself or someone else as a trustee.
In addition, as a grantor you will create rules in your trust that determine
who will receive your property. The party that receives your property
for immediate or eventual benefit is the beneficiary. Your rules will
also determine how and when your beneficiaries will receive your property.
In addition to allowing you to determine the distribution of your assets,
a trust will also help avoid probate court, which could be extremely costly.
Contact Atlantis Law to ensure your loved ones are cared for in the manner
What is a Revocable Living Trust?
A Revocable Living Trust is a legal document that provides you with lifetime
and after-death estate management. This particular type of trust can be
revoked, and changed if needed. Because of this feature you will be able
to continually make provisions to your trust.