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Latest questions and answers
Estate Planning Specialist
A Living Will states your wishes regarding life support in the event that you cannot communicate your end-of-life wishes yourself
. Your Living Will only comes into effect if you are in a persistent vegetative state or irreversible coma and can no longer make and communicate your own wishes. A Living Will spares your family the anguish of making life-support decisions without your input. A Living Will also ensures that your doctor understands your end-of-life wishes and treats you accordingly.
Any person over age 18 may (and should) create a Living Will. Common reasons that individuals create a Living Will include: Declining health To designate a specific person to make health care decisions for you The possibility of surgery or hospitalization Desire to state your wishes so that it is more likely that they will be carried out Diagnosis of a terminal condition with no hope of recovery
Making a living trust takes about the same amount of time and is only a little more complicated than making a will. If your circumstances aren't complicated and you are willing to invest a few hours of your time using an estate planning book or software, you can create a valid, effective trust document.
Probate is the formal legal process that gives recognition to a will and appoints the executor or personal representative who will administer the estate and distribute assets to the intended beneficiaries. The laws of each state vary, so it is a good idea to consult an attorney to determine whether a probate proceeding is necessary, whether the fiduciary must be bonded (a requirement that is often waived in the will) and what reports must be prepared. Most probate proceedings are neither expensive nor prolonged, which is contrary to the claims of many vendors selling living trust and other products
The basic job of administration and accounting for assets must be done whether the estate is handled by an executor in probate or whether probate is avoided because all assets were transferred to a living trust during lifetime or jointly owned. Many states have simplified or streamlined their probate processes over the years. In such states, there is now less reason to use probate avoidance techniques unless there are other valid reasons to continue to minimize probate. In planning your estate, more important than minimizing probate is minimizing the real issues that can make probate difficult, such as lawsuits by heirs
Avoiding probate court proceedings after your death can save your family time, money, and headaches. Revocable living trusts are the only probate-avoidance technique that allows you to avoid probate for virtually any property you own: real estate, jewelry, heirlooms, bank accounts, and much more.
Revocable living trusts function like wills--you use them to leave your property, and if you change your mind at any time while you're alive, you can change the terms of the trust or revoke it altogether. The advantage comes at your death. Property in the trust is controlled by the person you named to take over as successor trustee, and that person has the power to distribute the property to inheritors without any probate court involvement. That saves everyone a lot of work and gets property to the people you chose to inherit it much more quickly.