One of the best parts of an estate planning attorney’s job is answering client questions. It’s an essential part of the estate planning process so we’ve outlined some of your questions below.
I don’t want my ex-spouse to have control over my money. What do I do?
Your ex-spouse will not have control over any of your assets so long as you give your minor children’s inheritances in a trust with a named trustee that you have hand picked.
What if I don’t want my sister-in-law to raise my children when I die?
So long as you name guardians (and successor guardians) in your will and the other parent of your children does the same, your wish will be respected.
My aunt’s estate took 18 months to probate; how do I avoid this for my family?
You can avoid probate by using a fully funded, comprehensive revocable living trust-based plan.
How do I fund my trust?
You fund your trust by transferring your assets into it. This means that you change the title on your assets to the name of your trust. Procedures differ for real estate, financial accounts and personal property.
While this critical step is often omitted or botched by do-it-your-selfers and cut-rate, nonprofessional estate planning methods (e.g., software, web sites, paralegals, insuance and financial advisors, cut-rate lawyers), a qualified and experienced estate planning attorney will assist you with this aspect.
Doesn’t joint tenancy avoid probate?
The answer is both “yes” and “no.” Joint tenancy avoids probate on the death of the first spouse, not on the death of the second.
In addition, joint tenancy can have nasty side effects that should be avoided. Common side effects include the unintentional disinheritance of your children and unneeded exposure to capital gains taxes.
How do I ensure that my pets are cared for when I die?
You can make provisions for a pet trust in your own revocable living trust.
You name a trustee, caretaker, and successor for both and fund the trust. You can leave explicit instruction on how to care for your pet if you’d like, including providing for placement with a no-kill animal sanctuary.
Your pet may also need care should you become disabled and/or are hospitalized so be sure to include your cat in your disability planning as well.
Be sure to bring all of your estate planning questions to an experienced and qualified estate planning attorney.