5 Hacks for Setting Up a Living Will and Trust

Age is a slippery slope. The older you get, the more dependent you are on others. At some point, you cannot depend on yourself at all. 

Around 60-years-old, there is a 7% chance you will suffer from dementia. Two decades later, and it is more likely you will have dementia than you will not. By then, your decision-making is not trustworthy. 

Let your younger-self plan for future-you. Take the time now to decide what will happen to you and your property if the worst happens. 

These are 5 hacks to devising a will and trust.

Distinctions Between A Will and Trust

Legal jargon’s a little confusing. Layman’s terms can cause erroneous interchanging of the two meanings. A living trust and a living will are two, very separate things.

A lawyer can modify these documents when the person is able-bodied and right of mind. The ownership of these agreements transfers to the executor if either condition is not met.

A living trust documents the disbursement of your property after passing. A succeeding trustee will allocate your estate to your named beneficiaries. 

A living will deals with your health if you have been incapacitated. If you would like to be kept on support or not when you are unable to function for yourself. 

List Your Assets

Make a list of everything you own that has value: sentimental or capital. This a catalog of your assets. 

When devising your living trust, it is important to have an estimation of everything you own. Creating a trust will be easy when you can reduce this to a quantifiable number. Think of your house, your car, and everything included as your estate.

Most Americans will have around $300,000 worth of property to disperse. If your number is coming up short or high, try recalculating it. 

Your trustee will disperse your estate evenly (or how you deem fit) to your beneficiaries. 

Picking Your Beneficiaries

This part can be tough. It might be the toughest part for you. 

You have to choose who gets what when you are gone. This step is entirely dependent on your relationship with your loved ones. 

You might not have a family that you can give an estate to. Or you have a family undeserving of your property. It is yours to do what you wish; you can even donate it to charity. 

Pick who you think best deserves what you have earned in life. 

Find A Trustee You Can Trust

It is all in the name, “trustee.” Who do you trust to allocate your estate or make a life-or-death decision? 

Usually family. Most family members have nothing but loving intentions for you. 

If you do not have that, pick a trustee you can depend on. This person will decide your fate when you are gone physically or mentally. 

How to Write It

Writing a trust or a will depends on your wealth. If you are of moderate means, creating a will yourself is acceptable. But those with heavy wallets and lots of assets should hire an estate lawyer. 

Devising a will or a trust can be done through online software. Get the help of a loved one if you are uncomfortable with computers. 

A forewarning: doing either agreement incorrectly can devastate your beneficiaries. For those who err on the side of caution, it is recommended to get a lawyer regardless of your estate’s size. 

Take Care (of Yourself and Family) 

Everybody ages, everybody dies. What you do beforehand is important.

Know the distinction between a living will and a living trust. A will is health-related; a trust is for dispersing property. Make a list of your assets and decide a trustee to disperse them to beneficiaries.

You can create a will and trust yourself, but it is advised to do it with the help of a lawyer. 

Contact us if you have any other legal questions about estate planning or wills.

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How Did I Miss That? 5 Common Mistakes When Writing a Will

Despite the importance of estate planning, a majority of Americans seem to neglect it. In fact, 60% of American adults do not have a will.

Having more than enough to worry about already, many people do not want to add their mortality to their list of concerns. But writing a will can help you take good care of those you love, protect your assets, and prevent future disputes.

But just creating a will is not enough. You need to take the necessary measures to avoid common pitfalls that make your will legally sound.

Avoid these five common mistakes when writing a will.

Only Planning for the End of Life

A legal will should not just cover what will happen when you die. It should also articulate what should happen while you are still living.

To achieve this, you will need to create a living will as well as the last will and testament form.

The living will outlines your health care wishes while you are still alive. The last will and testament form gives your directives on estate inheritance after your death.

When drafting a living will remember to include advance directives.

Failing to Update Your Will

Making a will is not something you do once and forget about it. You need to update your will according to significant life changes.

Failure to do this can result in unintended inheritances and gifts, leaving your estate in a big mess.

Ignoring the Law

Each state has different legal requirements for creating a will. So before writing your will, familiarize yourself with your state’s stipulations for creating one.

Specifically, find out your state’s restrictions and requirements on matters such as; the number of witnesses required, selection criteria for witnesses, age, and notarization.

Failing to Name an Executor

An executor is a person responsible for ensuring that your will is followed to the letter. In your will, you should include the name of this individual/entity.

But before you select an executor, it is essential to get their permission. This is not something you would want to be a surprise.

Additionally, consider selecting a second executor. In case the first executor is unable to carry out their duties for whatsoever reason; the second executor will fill in.

Including Burial Wishes in the Will

Including your burial instructions in your will is not ideal, as wills are typically read several weeks after the funeral. As such, your burial instructions might be read too late, and this can leave your loved ones stressing about not observing your last wish.

To avoid this, write your burial instructions in a separate letter and tell your family where to find it.

Who to Trust When Writing a Will

Considering these potential pitfalls, writing a will can be a little bit tricky without a helping hand.

If you do not know how to write a will, Lilac City Law is here to help. We take our time to get to know you, your goals, and circumstances. This way, we can help you protect your assets better and secure the future of your loved ones.

Whether you want to create a will or maximize the effectiveness of the one you have already created, our experts will ensure that your last wishes are fully observed.

Contact us today to get started!

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5 Essential Estate Planning Forms You Need to Know About

Death. It is inevitable. No one likes considering their mortality but, the smartest among us prepare for it. Preparation helps the suffering of those you are leaving behind.

Filing the proper estate planning forms, consolidating assets into a trust, and making sure your affairs are in order is the greatest gift you can give your surviving loved ones.

By planning for the unexpected, you can avoid being taken advantage of and throw a safety net around your family and finances. Here, you will find the five most crucial estate planning forms you need.

Filling Out A Living Will

A living will gives your family, and any medical team attending you, instructions on how to take care of you if you are unable to make those decisions on your own.

Learn more about this and other advanced medical directives in our blog about creating an incapacitation plan here.

Establish A Durable Power of Attorney

One of the essential documents needed for estate planning is a durable power of attorney. This document assigns someone to act on your behalf if you should be incapacitated.

Unexpected things happen every day no matter your age. A durable power of attorney goes a long way towards making sure your wishes and finances are respected in a “worst case” scenario.

Choosing someone you trust to pay your bills, handle your finances and investments, and keep up the paperwork of your everyday life will help to make sure no one takes advantage of you or your estate.

Write A Legal Will

Writing a last will & testament is the first thing people consider when thinking about preparing for death. It is the legal form designating how you would like your estate to be divided up among any heirs you have.

A will assigns an executor who will manage your estate after your passing. If you have children, there will be a section on who should be appointed as their legal guardians if they are still minors when you pass.

Letter of Instruction

This letter goes along with the will as a non-legal, simple breakdown of the contents of the will. It is also the best place to put what your wishes are regarding the education, beliefs, and other significant decisions about your children.

A letter of instruction will allow you to say anything you don’t want to be made public knowledge since this is private and a will is public.

Form A Living Trust

A living trust avoids a legal process after death known as probate. Probate is the legal process your estate enters into after you die.

Any assets in a living trust are exempt from probate and will immediately be distributed, per your instructions, to any heirs. Setting up a living will can save your loved ones from stress and expenses related to probate.

Precise Preparation Before Death Avoids Confusion and Unnecessary Costs

Improving your familiarity with the forms and concepts necessary for a fully developed estate plan will help things go more smoothly for you and your family as you age and pass on. In fact, in the absolute worst case scenario, having these items prepared and maintained by a great estate lawyer, will be a godsend to those you leave behind.

If you are ready to take the next steps in estate planning we are here to help. You can read more about our family estate services here.

Contact us today by using the form below!

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How Becoming Incapacitated Can Affect Your Family

How Becoming Incapacitated Can Affect Your Family

If you should become incapacitated at some point in your life, you can bet it will be both very scary and stressful for you and your family.

Becoming incapacitated and unable to take care of your affairs, does not mean that you do not have a plan or say in your care and finances though.

There are steps you can take today to ensure that you and your family are both taken care of should you or your spouse ever end up in this situation.

Advance Health Care Directive 

An advance health care directive is also known as a living will.  This document allows you to choose someone you trust to make your health care decisions.  This person might be a family member or a trusted friend.  Having someone designated to make sure your health care decisions are in line with your outlook and desires will take the pressure off of you and your family.

Working through the establishment of a living will/advance health care directive means stating clearly which health care and end of life choices you want.  This document also allows you to say what you want or do not want. For example, you can put in your advance health care directive that you do not want a feeding tube or you can put that you do want a respirator if those are your choices.  These directives eliminate ambiguity for your family when trying to make health care decisions on your behalf.

Setting up a living will/advance healthcare directive today is a great first step in getting your estate in order.

Set Up Your Advance Health Care Directive & Living Will Today

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Durable Power of Attorney for Finance 

A durable power of attorney is similar to the advance health care directive in that you choose a family member or a trusted friend to make decisions for you.  The difference is that this is for your finances.  Because of this, you want to make sure you choose a person you completely trust to make sound financial decisions for you and possibly your family depending on the situation.  The person you choose can be the same person as your advance health care directive but does not have to.

Guardianship Plan

When we say a Guardianship Plan, we are talking about a plan set up to help you to choose someone to take care of your minor children if you are unable to.  In many cases, your spouse will be there to the carry-on with guardianship of your minor children, but in the rare case both of you become incapacitated or only one of you are still living, it will give you the reassurance your children will be taken care of.

Along with choosing who will be your children’s guardian, you can also add a letter voicing your wishes for how your children are raised.  You can say what type of education you want for them, what religion you want them to follow, etc.

You can read more about guardianship plans and kids protection plans, here.

Trust

Having a trust set up for your children will ensure that your wealth is protected from undue taxes or probate while also setting up the transfer of your wealth and estate to those you designate.  You will be able to name a trustee who will help your children access your gift for things like schooling, housing, basic needs, or other things you want to designate.

To help reduce stress, the trustee and the guardian should be two separate people. However, they must be able to work together and make decisions in the best interest of your children.  Without a trust, your financial and property assets could become the rope in a tug of war between kids, relatives, and others.  If you were to become incapacitated, a trust would truly help to keep things straight for everyone!

What Legal Documents Do I Need for my Estate Plan?

What Legal Documents Do I Need for my Estate Plan?

When setting up an estate plan, you may find yourself needing to find a lot of different documents. If you are using an estate planning attorney, you might find yourself asking, “What legal documents do I need?”  And more to the point, “what do I need to prepare these documents?”

To help you, we have compiled a list of documents you are going to need for each part of the estate planning process. 

Not everyone will need each part so don’t worry if you see something that you are not doing.  Feel free to contact us if you have any questions. 

Living Will

A living will is also known as an advance care directive.  A living will is only valid while you are alive.  It states your wishes for end of life medical care in case you are unable to communicate your decisions.  You can set up the living will to take effect either as soon as it is signed or it can be set up to only begin as soon as you are unable to communicate your wishes.  The requirements for a living will vary from state to state, so your best option is to hire an estate planning attorney to help you.  Legal documents you will need for your living will are:

  • Beneficiary informationLegal names, Contact information, Social Security, and Birth Certificate/adoption papers (for minor children).
  • Asset InformationCopy of the deed for your house or other real estate, titles for all vehicles, bank statements, retirement paperwork, paperwork related to investments, and any paperwork from an appraiser if you have any valuable personal property you want to be left to a specific beneficiary.
  • Debt Informationdocuments relating to your mortgage, car loans, student loans, and consumer debt.
  • Executor and Guardian InformationNames and contact information for anyone you name an executor or guardian.

Durable Power of Attorney for Finances

A Durable Power of Attorney for Finances allows you to name a trusted person to be able to make decisions about your finances should you become incapacitated.  If you do not have a Durable Power of Attorney for finances, then your loved ones will have to go to court and ask for the ability to make financial decisions.  Legal documents you will need for your living will are:

  • Durable Power of Attorney FormMust be filled out, signed, and notarized (for Washington state, requirements vary from state to state).
  • Attorney-in-fact contact informationContact information and legal name(s) for anyone you name to make decisions for you.

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care

A Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care allows you to name someone to make health care decisions for you should you become incapacitated. It also allows you to voice what you want if you become incapacitated. Legal documents you will need for your living will are:

  • Durable Power of Attorney FormMust be filled out, signed, and notarized (for Washington state, requirements vary from state to state).
  • Attorney-in-fact contact informationContact information and legal name(s) for anyone you name to make decisions for you.

Last Will and Testament

You last will and testament is a legal document that allows you to say how your estate will be distributed after you die.  It will also allow you to name a guardian for your minor children if you have any and also what will happen to your pets. Legal documents you will need for your living will are:

  • Family DocumentsPrenuptial agreements, marriage certificates, divorce decrees, existing will and trust documents if you have them, adoption certificates (if applicable), and findings of your disability or of family members.
  • Business documents Partnership agreements, trade name registrations, and documents files to establish a corporation.
  • Real Estate DocumentsDeeds, real estate trust documents, and deeds of life estates or leases.
  • Account StatementsBank, retirement, and investment accounts.

Living Trust

There are two types of living trusts; Revocable (can be changed) and Irrevocable (cannot be changed).  Unlike a will, a living trust will ensure that property left through the trust will not have to go into probate.  When it goes through probate, it can take months to be settled and sometimes cost as much as 5% of the assets to pay for lawyers.  Not everyone has to be concerned about probate, and some people may not need a trust at all.  You can speak with an estate planning attorney to find out if you need a living trust.  Legal documents you will need for your living will are:

  • Beneficiary informationLegal names, Contact information, Social Security, and Birth Certificate/adoption papers (for minor children).
  • Asset InformationCopy of the deed for your house or other real estate, titles for all vehicles, bank statements, retirement paperwork, paperwork related to investments, and any paperwork from an appraiser if you have any valuable personal property you want to be left to a specific beneficiary. You only need documents for the property you will be putting into the living trust.
Finish Your Plan!  Contact an Estate Planning Attorney Today…

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4 Must-Have Estate Planning Documents for Every Young Adult

4 Must-Have Estate Planning Documents for Every Young Adult

 

You are young and you are ready to change the world!  But as you charge into the world, there’s something you maybe were never taught…

The importance of taking steps to secure your current and future assets and estate through an appropriate estate plan.   


 

Last Will and Testament

A fully fleshed out estate plan consists of guardianship plans, and beneficiary documentation, and tons of other things.  But the first thing people usually think about is drafting a last Will and Testament.

In brief, a Will describes your wishes in regards to assets and estate after you pass. This includes decisions such as who gets to inherit what (in regards to your estate), who will manage your wealth if it’s necessary,   and even who should be named as the guardian of your children (if required).  There are a number of other documents and ways to do this, but as we said before, the last Will and Testament is often the first thing people think about and set up during their exploration of estate planning.

One of the biggest drawbacks to simply relying on a Will is that to enforce the details in the Will requires a court process known as probate.  Wherein a judge will determine how to interpret the desires of the will, in regards to metering out your estate.  Plus, probate is costly and time-consuming.  However, going through probate to disburse your estate according to your wishes is infinitely better than having a judge make an educated guess (their own opinion) on how to distribute your estate and assets.  Which is what they’ll do, without an up to date Will.

Hopefully, you have a long time to think about how your will needs to be worded and updated.  However, choosing not to establish one in the first place, is risky, and could ultimately be very costly for your family and heirs.  You can get ahead on this, by talking to an estate planning attorney today.

 

Living Will

Health and wealth are two very important aspects of estate planning.  And in planning for your future and potential catastrophic personal events, safeguarding them should never be overlooked.

A living will defines your intent and desires for potential end-of-life care.  Do you want to be on life support?  If so, how long?  How much of your estate and assets should go to support your end of life care?

You might utilize your living will to state advanced directives too.  For instance, you might state that in certain cases, pain killers should be used, but CPR or other extreme measures should not be attempted to sustain your life.

Living wills often work in conjunction with Healthcare Power of Attorney (Medical Power of Attorney), or Durable Power of Attorney.  You should familiarize yourself with these documents if you’re going to set up a Living Will.  Still, if you’re getting the bases covered, you should work with an Estate Planning attorney to set up your Living Will.

 

Financial Power of Attorney

A financial power of attorney designates someone to take charge of your financial assets and affairs in your absence or in case you’re incapacitated.  This may be part of a larger set of Powers of Attorney or may be specifically designated to only cover financial issues of your choosing.  The responsibilities of your financial POA might include taking care of and protecting your assets, distributing your assets,  or even something as straight forward as dealing with your bills.

In addition to working with a great Estate Planning attorney to set up your Financial Power of Attorney, you may also want to engage the services of a financial planner.  Working with a financial planner that understands estate planning will enable you to have a better understanding of the types of financial issues you FPOA designee would have to deal with.

Lilac City Law recommends a financial planner from our preferred partners list

 

Living Trust

Trusts play a pivotal role in planning for the future of your estate and how it will be taken care of when you pass or become unable to manage it. One of the greatest advantages of a living trust is avoiding probate which is the court process and associated fees that we described in the section above (Last Will & Testament).  One huge bonus of a living trust is that unlike a Will, it is a whole lot easier for you to update it throughout your lifetime. So, easier to update, protects your wealth from disappearing into taxes and probate, and you can set it up relatively easily with the help of a great Estate Planning Attorney.  It’s a win-win-win, for someone new to estate planning.  Here’s more information on living trusts.

 


Schedule an estate plan consultation today!


 

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