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Why The Need for An Estate Plan

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Do you wear your seat belt every time you get in a car? Sure you do! Do you have smoke alarms in your home? You probably do! So do you plan to avoid having bad things happen to you too with legal documents? What about planning for when you become alive but not well? Do you have a plan about who can come into the hospital room to make medical decisions for you when you can’t? Or when you need someone to bring in your checkbook when you cannot manage your own finances due to injury or becoming otherwise incapacitated? What does that planning look like? I bet you know where I am going with this. It’s a simple estate plan. A trust, a pour over will, a durable power of attorney and an advance health care directive are the planning documents to design and execute now just in case something bad happens to you and you become alive and not well or in the event you pass away. Here’s some FAQ about estate planning:

  1. How long does it take to set up an estate plan?
If you have your information organized and have communicated all of your wishes to your attorney, it should take anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks to get the drafts generated, have you review them and then have a signing meeting with your attorney to have the estate plan fully executed.
  1. What’s the typical cost for an estate plan?
Almost all estate plans generated out of our firm are priced at a flat fee customized for you. The flat fee range is from $1500 to $3500 and is dependent on whether you are married or not married. A married couple estate plan costs more as there are twice as many documents. If you have a larger estate, estate tax avoidance planning is often provided and that costs more. If you have a child with a special needs or difficult children, then the drafting is more complex as to the trust terms and rules so the fee is priced accordingly.
  1. What does funding a trust mean?
Setting up a trust is easy. Just sign it and you’re done. But you have to transfer your financial assets to the trust so that it can avoid probate and do what the trust is designed. Our firm will transfer all California real estate to your trust for you when you provide the information about what you own and this is discussed at the intake and the fee is priced accordingly to how many properties you own. You will be given instructions on how to transfer ordinary bank accounts to the trust and specific rules for other kinds of financial products and accounts like retirement and life insurance.
  1. How many meetings do I get with the attorney?
Typically two meetings. A meeting to determine what your wishes are and to fully explain what estate planning is and does. Then a second meeting to review all the documents, explain them again and then to execute them. You can arrange for more meetings if needed, but the fee will be adjusted sometimes to accommodate this.
  1. Where are the original estate planning documents kept?
You will go home with all of the original estate planning documents in a binder. You keep the originals not us. Our firm will scan a copy and keep it electronically, but we do not need nor keep any original documents once you have executed the estate plan.
  1. What does “estate plan” mean?
The term “estate plan” covers all documents and almost always includes a revocable living trust, pour over will, durable power of attorney and advance health care directive.
  1. What’s a Schedule A?
A Schedule A or a Schedule of Assets is an ancillary document to your trust and lists all of your assets that are intended to be a part of your trust. It’s an important document actually! If you pass away, your successor trustee needs to know what assets to look for and this is an index of what you own. If you are interested in setting up your own estate plan, contact us! We make it as easy as possible and the peace of mind generated once you have executed your own documents is immeasurable!

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