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What Prompts Someone to Set Up an Estate Plan?

Many times, people come to us after they have had to deal with a death in their family. Some people were surprised how smoothly things went because their loved one had a trust that avoided probate. Those people immediately see the benefit of setting up a trust for that purpose and have contacted us to set up their estate in the same way. Others have had a very difficult time with the probate court. You do not realize how cumbersome probate can be until you have lived through it.

What Are The Common Mistakes That People Make In Estate Planning?

The most common mistakes are not planning for incapacity and relying solely on a will. A will only becomes effective if it is probated in the court system. A will does nothing for you if you are still alive, but unable to make your own decisions due to incapacity. A will also requires you to go to court to make anything happen.

What Documents Should I Bring To An Initial Consultation With An Estate Planning Attorney?

We have a Personal Information Form that we request our clients to fill out and send to us before our first meeting. We offer a free consultation based upon that information. We need an idea of what assets and liabilities are in play. We ask for full names, addresses, and phone numbers of anyone who will serve as an agent or executor in the plan. We also need to know the basic information on how you would want your estate to be distributed.

Why Is The Initial Consultation With An Estate Planning Attorney So Important?

We can come up with options for your estate plan. The more information you provide, the more accurate we can be. We do not charge for the initial consultation. Once you decide on a plan package, we charge half down to create drafts of the plan, and half when the final documents are executed at our office.

What Are Other Questions That An Attorney Asks When Setting Up An Estate Plan?

We will want to know who might be challenging how you distribute your estate. There are certain strategies we can use to make a challenge less likely.

How Long Does It Typically Take To Set Up A Proper Estate Plan?

It depends on what types of assets are in the estate and the size of the estate. If there are several titled assets involved, it may take more time to retitle that property. Generally, we can work up a sophisticated plan for most estates within a few weeks.

Is It Expensive To Create An Estate Plan?

Yes, there are costs to set up an estate plan. It can run from less than $1,000 to several thousand dollars depending on how complex the issues are. For most people, a good estate plan now means that less money will have to be paid in the future for attorneys or court costs.

Should Someone Plan For A Future Bankruptcy Or A Divorce In An Estate Plan?

You can use an estate plan to protect assets from future creditors or future ex-spouses. The key to doing things like this is creating the plan before an event takes place, such as before a lawsuit is filed or before there are any disputes with the spouse.

Who Should Be Involved In That First Initial Meeting?

The initial meeting should include the persons who will be signing the plan, such as the husband and the wife. When the person is elderly and relying on family for assistance, it is appropriate to have that person they are relying upon in the meeting as well.

Should Someone Discuss Their Estate Plan With Children Or A Spouse?

An estate plan should definitely be discussed with a spouse. That is typically the person who will be handling things if one spouse dies. That spouse likely will have community property interests that cannot be given away by the deceased spouse in their will. The estate plan should be generally known by the adult children, especially if they are listed as a backup agent for a power of attorney or other position.

Do Your Clients Have A Provision For Mediation Should There Be Any Dispute Among The Heirs?

We do not have a mediation provision because mediations are voluntary whether in the document or not. A party is not required to resolve anything at a mediation. I do encourage mediation for families who have disputes over the distribution of an estate.

Is A Business Succession Plan Integrated Into An Estate Plan Or Is It Something Different?

A business succession plan can be incorporated into an estate plan. It may require the drafting of an operating agreement for the entity and coordination between the various interest owners.

How Is An Estate Plan Made Official?

An estate plan is made official by signing the necessary documents with the necessary formalities. For some documents, a notarized signature is sufficient. For other documents, such as a will, typically you will have two witnesses and a notary present when the person signs the document.

Can I Modify My Estate Plan At Any Time?

You can change a will at any time as long as you have the capacity to make those types of decisions. You can change most of the estate plan at any time. If you have an irrevocable trust, you will have fewer options to make changes.

For more information on Important Questions On Estate Planning, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (512) 288-3200 today.

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