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Checklist for Your First Appointment

To establish an estate plan with a trust, you need to:

1. Assemble all identifying financial account information. I do not need any account values, but make a list of all financial accounts. List institution where account is, account number, telephone number of institution, and if you have a contact that you work with at that institution you need to list their name and telephone number. I do not need the name of any creditor.

2. List all Life insurance policies with policy number and insurance company telephone number.

3. The address and telephone number of the person you want to grant power of attorney to. There is a financial and medical power of attorney. You can name the same person for both, but you can have different names for these powers. You should have an alternate person for each power, in case something happens to first choice.

4. Have list of beneficiaries for your estate. We can talk about options for how to structure your transfers. If your trustee knows all the beneficiaries, I do not need their addresses and telephone numbers. If your trustee does not know all your beneficiaries, then provide their addresses and telephone numbers.

Call me when you have this information together, and we can schedule a time to get started.

Terms of Estate Planning

Power of Attorney:

Only you have the right to transact business with your property. When you execute a power of attorney you give someone else the power to conduct business in your name. A Power of Attorney can be general (the designated person can conduct business in your name for any purpose), a Limited Power of Attorney (you specifically state when a person may do business in your name). A Power of Attorney comes in handy when you are unable to conduct your own business. With a Power of Attorney in place the designated person can act in your shoes. Even if you are out of town or just don't feel like leaving the house, with a Power of Attorney in place someone else can do the job. A Power of Attorney can be revoked at any time, and it ends at your death. Without a Power of Attorney in place, in order for someone to access your assets, someone would have to petition the court to be named your conservator. Powers of Attorney are usually only granted to your most trusted family members.

Medical Power of Attorney:

You use this to designate a specific person as your health care decision maker. This power only comes into place when you are unable to communicate with your doctors. With a Medical Power of Attorney, you put one person in charge of approving medical procedures. This power allows for smooth delivery of medical procedures. A person does not want his or her family giving conflicting advice to the doctors. It is best to have one person in charge. In, addition with the new privacy laws the need to designate a health care agent who can communicate with insurance companies and your medical providers on your behalf is very important.

Living Will:

This document makes it known that you do not want to be kept alive after the point where there is no hope for recovery and you are no longer able to communicate. The Living Will puts your decision regarding this matter in writing, so when a time comes when you cannot communicate, your wishes are known.

Living Trust:

A Living Trust is a form of ownership which has three parts: the agreement (has all the terms of your Trust), a Trustee (this is the person who administers the Trust, you are the Trustee during your life), Beneficiary (the person, who gets the proceeds from your Trust, you are the Beneficiary as long as you are alive). A Living Trust survives your death, and that is why a Living Trust avoids probate. Your Trust assets can be distributed immediately after your death. You control your assets in Trust just as you do now, but you do it as Trustee. With a Living Trust after your death your family receives your estate in the quickest and least expensive way.

Will:

A Will is a document that contains your instructions for distributing your final estate. At your death all assets held in your name must pass through the probate court. The probate court transfers title of your assets from your estate to the Beneficiaries that you named in your will. A lawyer is needed to probate your estate. The probate process takes on average 9 to 12 months in Douglas County and costs an average of three percent of the value of your final estate.

Transfer on death deed:

Allows you to designate a beneficiary on your home. Works if your named beneficiaries work together well. Your beneficiaries become co-owners of your home at your death. This avoids probate for your home.

Trusts For A Single Person with Kids

Why should A SINGLE PERSON WITH CHILDREN consider a Trust?

There are two issues that all people will confront during their final years. The first issue is one's physical or mental incapacity. This incapacity may last a short time and not create any problems, but it could last for years and create a number of difficulties. This issue is especially important for a single person. When you become ill the management of your assets and finances need to continue. If you have not made arrangements before your incapacitation, your children or other family members will have to petition the court to become appointed Conservator of your estate.

Whenever the court appoints a Conservator, that Conservator has to provide an annual accounting to the court as to how the incapacitated person's estate was managed. With a Trust this whole dilemma is eliminated. With a Trust you have named a Successor Trustee (usually your children, or close relative) to take over the management of your assets. These events take place without any court involvement, and can be done quietly and simply within your family.

The other issue that we all face is passing our assets to our children or other beneficiaries after our death. With only a will your children will be subjected to a court process that will last for an average of nine months and that costs thousands of dollars. Most people want their assets to go to their children as simply as possible, without burdening them with a long drawn out legal proceeding. Families do best when estates can be settled simply and quickly. The longer an estate settlement drags out the greater the chance that friction and tension will arise among your children. With a Trust all your children have to do after your death is obtain your death certificate, and along with the Trust document they can get all your assets released. Your children will not need to use a lawyer to get your assets released. Your assets will be divided and distributed by the Successor Trustee that you named in your Trust. Your Successor Trustee will distribute your assets in accordance with the terms of your Trust. This process can be done as quickly as your children want, rather than take as long as the probate process lasts.

Some people avoid probate by adding children's names to their assets. With this approach you make all your assets subject to your children's financial problems, and in addition you create income tax liability where none needed to occur. If your children inherit your assets at your death, they receive stepped-up basis. Stepped-up basis means that after your death, when your beneficiaries sell your appreciated assets, they will owe no taxes on the gains. If you had added their names to the assets during your life your beneficiaries will not receive the stepped-up basis.

At your death or incapacitation a Trust will make the management or distribution of your estate as simple as possible.

Trusts For Minors

Without a trust if a mother and father pass away a child is immediately entitled to their parent's assets. Minor children cannot inherit money, so a conservator would be appointed by the court to manage the inherited assets. This conservator would have to make an annual accounting to the court to show the court how the money was being spent and managed. When the minor child reached the age of 19 they would receive all the assets with no strings attached. Most 19 year olds are not equipped to responsibly manage large sums of money. A 19 year-old who receives a large sum of money may end up hurting themselves by acting irresponsibly and wasting the money. A young person who is not prepared to manage money may not only fritter away their inheritance, but in the meantime may also not obtain important skills that they will need to have a successful life.

An alternative to this approach is to use trusts in your estate planning. With a living trust your assets are already held in trust, and therefore do not have to go through probate. With a testamentary trust your trust is set forth in your will. With a testamentary trust your assets first go through probate before they are placed in your trust. With retirement accounts and life insurance proceeds you name the trust as the contingent beneficiary. A trust is a form of ownership. The trust is governed by the contents of the trust document. The trust assets are managed by the trustee, and held for a beneficiary. With a trust the trustee will manage and control the distribution of your estate's assets. With a trust you can direct that the trust assets be paid to your children over a number of years. A child can receive money for their health, welfare and educational needs. Then at ages that you choose your child can receive lump sum money that they can do with as they wish. A popular choice is for the child to receive lump sum money at age 22 and the rest at 25. Another popular choice is 1/3 at 22, 1/3 at 26, and the rest at age 30. There are infinite choices that a parent can select.

Trusts are ideal for managing assets for disabled children. Since disabled children may never be able to manage their own finances, a Trust allows a parent to create a long-term plan for the management of a child's finances.

The bottom line is that a trust allows a parent to exercise some control after their death on the way that their child receives their assets. The parent creates the rules of the trust, and selects the trustee for their trust.

Trusts for A Single Person With No Kids

Why should A SINGLE PERSON WITH NO CHILDREN consider a Trust?

There are two issues that all people will confront during their final years. The first issue is one's physical or mental incapacity. This incapacity may last a short time and not create any problems, but it could last for years and create a number of difficulties. This issue is especially important for a single person. When you become ill the management of your assets and finances need to continue. If you have not made arrangements before you have become incapacitated, some family member or interested person will have to petition the court to become appointed Conservator of your estate.

Whenever the court appoints a Conservator, that Conservator has to provide an annual accounting to the court as to how the incapacitated person's estate was managed. With a Trust this whole dilemma is eliminated. With a Trust you have named a Successor Trustee (usually your children, or close relative) to take over the management of your assets. These events take place without any court involvement, and can be done quietly and simply within your family.

The other issue that we all face is passing our assets to our beneficiaries after our death. With only a will your beneficiaries will be subjected to a court process that will last for an average of nine months and that costs thousands of dollars. Most people want their assets to go to their designated beneficiaries as simply as possible, without burdening them with a long drawn out legal proceeding. Families do best when estates can be settled simply and quickly. The longer an estate settlement drags out the greater the chance that friction and tension will arise among your family. With a Trust all your family has to do after your death is obtain your death certificate, and along with the Trust document they can get all your assets released. Your beneficiaries will not need to use a lawyer to get your assets released. Your assets will be divided and distributed by the Successor Trustee that you named in your Trust. Your Successor Trustee will distribute your assets in accordance with the terms of your Trust. This process can be done as quickly as your beneficiaries want, rather than take as long as the probate process lasts.

At your death or incapacitation a Trust will make the management or distribution of your estate as simple as possible. When a person establishes a Trust along with a Living Will and Medical and financial Power of Attorney, that person can be assured that he or she has done their best to make their final illness and death as free from turmoil as possible. Your family is the ones that benefit from a simple and short estate settlement process, and that is why Trusts have become so popular.

Trust For A Married Couple

WHY SHOULD A MARRIED COUPLE CONSIDER A TRUST?

There are two issues that all people will confront during their final years. The first issue is one's physical or mental incapacity. This incapacity may last a short time and not create any problems, but it could last for years and create a number of difficulties. For example, if one spouse becomes incapacitated and the other spouse wants to sell the house, that single spouse could not sell the house alone. The spouse who wants to sell the house would still need both spouses' signatures, and an incapacitated spouse could not legally provide that signature. In order to sell the house, the spouse who wants to sell the house would have to petition the court to become appointed Conservator over the incapacitated spouse.

If both spouses become incapacitated, or if one is deceased and the surviving spouse is incapacitated; one of your family members would have to petition the court to be appointed Conservator over the incapacitated individual. Whenever the court appoints a Conservator, that Conservator has to provide an annual accounting to the court as to how the incapacitated person's estate was managed. With a Trust this whole dilemma is eliminated. With a Trust both spouses are Trustees, and one Trustee can sell a Trust asset. If neither spouse is able to act, then you have named a Successor Trustee (usually a child) to take over the management of your assets. These events take place without any court involvement, and can be done quietly and simply within your family.

The other issue that we all face is passing our assets to our heirs after our death. With only a will your heirs will be subjected to at least a several month court process that costs thousands of dollars. Most people want their assets to go to their designated heirs as simply as possible, without burdening them with a long drawn out legal proceeding. Families do best when estates can be settled simply and quickly. No one wants their family to be bogged down in a long drawn out costly process. With a Trust all your children have to do after your death is obtain your death certificate and along with the Trust document they can get all your assets released. Your children will not need to use a lawyer to get your assets released. Your assets will be divided and distributed by the Successor Trustee that you named in your Trust. Your Successor Trustee will distribute your assets in accordance with the terms of your Trust. This process can be done as quickly as your family wants, rather than take as long as the probate process lasts.

At your death or incapacitation a Trust will make the management or distribution of your estate as simple as possible. When a person establishes a Trust along with a Living Will, Financial Power of Attorney, and Medical Power of Attorney, that person can be assured that he or she has done their best to make their final illness and death as free from turmoil as possible. Your family members are the ones that benefit from a simple and short estate settlement process and that is why Trusts have become so popular.