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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 you intend.

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.

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