Your Last Will is a legal document through which you distribute some of your assets upon death. Other assets will be distributed not based on your Last Will but on your beneficiary designations, depending on the situation. Over two-thirds of the U.S. adult population does not have a last will, and for those who do, most Last Wills do not fully cover their situation. Upon death, the only want to make a Last Will valid is to file it in the probate court, a public and normally lengthy process that delays your family access to what you have left behind.
In the world of estate planning, the best outcome for you, your family, and your loved ones will be achieved only by working with a lawyer who encounters estate planning situations daily. You have worked your whole life for what you have and the relationships you have created. Unfortunately, some families collapse after the death of a loved one because they either did no planning at all, or if they did, it was through an online platform that knew nothing about their family or circumstances and that ultimately failed them when their family needed help the most. We encourage a lifelong relationship between you and your estate planning attorney so that you have a lawyer for life to be there for your family when you cannot be.
This is the most often asked question in estate planning, and that is okay – we know the topic of cost is a sensitive one when it comes to choosing a professional to guide you, and we have designed our fees on a flat-fee basis only so that you know exactly what you are committing to – and there are no surprises. While we cannot quote fees online or over the phone, we invite you to check out our upcoming educational events where we teach you things about estate planning you do not even know to ask, plus we will cover during our next event our unique meeting process and fee schedule so that you know exactly how to take the next steps at the best time for you and your family.
Think of a Trust as a “Will substitute.” What we mean is that just as a Last Will distributes your assets upon death, a Revocable Living Trust does the same. The upside of a Trust over a Will is that a Trust need not be filed with the probate court to be effective, whereas a Last Will must be filed with the probate court to have any effect. As a result, a Trust remains a private document pertaining to your private affairs, whereas a Last Will becomes a public document after you pass away no matter how private you were during your lifetime. Of course, there are additional types of trusts as well that serve different purposes, and each family’s unique situation must be taken into account to design the right overall estate plan, which may include one or more Trusts.
No, of course not! After you are gone, your loved ones will miss you deeply – they will long for your words of counsel and concern, and hearing an old voicemail or reading a letter from you again would be a tremendous gift. This has nothing to do with money. Through our unique life and legacy planning process, you can give your loved ones the most precious gift of all – a lasting expression of your love. This is because we believe estate planning is not just about transferring your financial assets and personal belongings. It is equally about capturing and transferring your valuable intangible gifts: your values, insights, stories, and experiences. What could be more valuable? Estate planning is not only for those rich with money. Everyone we know already has an estate as valuable as anything in the world and that they should protect.
Your estate plan works no matter where in the U.S. you might physically be (such as on vacation) or might move to. This said, we always recommend finding your neighborhood Personal Family Lawyer to review your out-of-state plan to help you ensure you make any necessary updates based on differences in state law.