Steve often uses Revocable Living Trusts in his estate plans because they better handle incapacity. If you are disabled severely and someone is acting “for you” with regard to your finances you want to make sure that person is accountable to you and your loved ones. Coupled with a proper General Durable Power of Attorney all your assets can be protected by your chosen agents. At all costs, you want to avoid “living probate” or the “guardianship” process where lawyers are paid a great deal to name an “agent” when you could have done this ahead of time!
A properly drafted and executed estate plan can help make sure that assets are available when they are needed and are not tied up in “probate” which is the Court-monitored process for re-titling your assets. With the use of living trusts and other asset ownership arrangements, many delays can be avoided.
Many people do not know or understand that a Will is a public document once the will-maker (Testator) dies and the will is “probated” and made legally effective. Most trusts that I use can maintain privacy so that no one knows who is getting anything from your legacy let along how much or when.
If you do not have a comprehensive estate plan, there is a “plan” for you called the laws of intestacy. The laws of Pennsylvania and New Jersey may or may not fall in line with what you want to see happen. To make sure your assets go to who you choose you must at least learn about the drafting of estate planning documents so that any unintended consequences are avoided.
You may want to give money “outright” to your beneficiaries (heirs), but many people with more than a rudimentary need for estate planning need to use certain types of trusts to control how their assets are handled and passed on. We can accomplish the goals of protecting beneficiaries from age, immaturity, or personal problems; we can also protect assets from unnecessary taxes; additionally, we can protect the benefits of disabled beneficiaries with supplemental needs trusts.
Especially when dealing with minors, parents, grandparents and older family members want to “ration out” the money or assets they leave behind; it is very often a good idea to distribute funds over time or at certain milestones so that beneficiaries do not “waste” money or lose sight of the value of the legacy you left for them.
All at the lowest possible overall cost to you and those you love.