Frequently Asked Estate Planning Questions

Frequently Asked Estate Planning Questions

Gilbert Arizona Estate Planning Law Firm

Estate planning can often seem overwhelming and confusing. To add some clarity to the process, estate planning attorney Jake Carlson has compiled a list of frequently asked estate planning questions in the space below. If you have further inquiries, do not hesitate to contact our office, and we will happily answer your questions.

Frequently Asked Estate Planning Questions

Values-Based Estate Planning is our unique process to help you identify the values that you hold dear and develop a plan to share that legacy with your loved ones. This separates LifePlan Legal from other Estate Planning firms; we believe in sharing your values, not just your valuables, with the next generation.

The document a person signs to provide for the orderly disposition of assets after death. Wills do not avoid probate. Wills have no legal authority until the willmaker dies and the original will is delivered to the Probate Court. Still, everyone with minor children needs a will. It is the only way to appoint the new “parent” of an orphaned child. Special testamentary trust provisions in a will can provide for the management and distribution of assets for your heirs. Additionally, assets can be arranged and coordinated with provisions of the testamentary trusts to avoid death taxes.

This is an agreement with three parties: the Trust-makers, the Trustees (or Trust Managers), and the Trust Beneficiaries. For example, a husband and wife may name themselves all three parties to create their trust, manage all the assets transferred to the trust, and have full use and enjoyment of all the trust assets as beneficiaries. Further “back-up” managers can step in under the terms of the trust to manage the assets should the couple become incapacitated or die. Special provisions in the trust also control the management and distribution of assets to heirs in the event of the trustmaker’s death. With proper planning, the couple also can avoid or eliminate death taxes on their estate. The Revocable Living Trust may allow them to accomplish all this outside of any court proceeding.

Whether you are young or old, rich or poor, married or single, if you own titled assets such as a house and want your loved ones to avoid court interference at your death or incapacity, consider a revocable living trust. A trust allows you to bring all of your assets together under one plan.

An Arizona pour-over will is a complimenting document to a trust. A pour-over will is an instrument to move any of your assets not specifically titled in the name of your trust into your trust.

Frequently Asked Elder Care Questions

The term Elder Care can be a little deceiving. It is simply the industry adopted name for the practice of helping individuals navigate the complex legal requirements to secure and pay for long-term care, which may include qualifying for government benefits (Medicaid, Veteran’s Administration Aid).

Long-term care insurance is an insurance policy that helps you pay the high cost of care in the future. While many believe it is unlikely they would ever need this type of assistance, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services expects 70% of those turning 65 years old now will require long-term care during their lives.

In some circumstances, it may. However, Medicare will only cover up to 100 days of skilled nursing care rehabilitation per illness. Once you stop improving, Medicare stops covering. After 100 days, you are responsible for the entire cost of your care.

A Living Will is sometimes called an Advanced Healthcare Directive and states your desires concerning medical life support measures, if you are unable to express them yourself. A Living Will is often paired with a HIPPA Authorization

The 4 most common ways to pay for long-term care are private pay (paid out of pocket), Long-term Care Insurance, Medicaid and Veteran’s Administration (VA) Aid. Here at LifePlan Legal, we specialize in the two government programs that are available to help pay for long term care, Medicaid and VA Aid.

Aid and Attendance pension is a benefit available to some veterans. Some basic requirements include serving on active duty for at least 90 days with at least 1 day occurring during wartime. Many veterans qualify for this benefit and they don’t even know it.

Frequently Asked Powers of Attorney Questions

These allow you to appoint someone you know and trust to make your personal health care and financial decisions even when you cannot. If you are incapacitated without these legal documents, then you and your family will be involved in a probate proceeding known as a guardianship and conservatorship. This is the court proceeding where a judge determines who should make these decisions for you under the ongoing supervision of the court.

Frequently Asked Probate & Estate Administration Questions

Probate is the court and process that looks after people who cannot make their own personal, health care and financial decisions. These people fall into three general categories: Minor Children (under age 18 in most states); Incapacitated Adults; and People who have died without legal arrangements to avoid probate. Probate proceedings can be expensive and time-consuming. Additionally, the court proceeding and associated documents are all a matter of public record. Many people choose to avoid probate in order to save money, spare their heirs a legal hassle, and keep their personal affairs private.

This is the most common form of asset ownership between spouses. Joint tenancy (or TBE) has the advantage of avoiding probate at the death of the first spouse. However, the surviving spouse should not add the names of other relatives to their assets. Doing so may subject their assets to loss through the debts, bankruptcies, divorces and/or lawsuits of any additional joint tenants. Joint tenancy planning also may result in unnecessary death taxes on the estate of a married couple.

If you die without even a Will (intestate), the legislature of your state has already determined who will inherit your assets and when they will inherit them. You may not agree with their plan, but roughly 70 percent of Americans currently use it.

You may avoid probate on the transfer of some assets at your death through the use of beneficiary designations. Laws regarding what assets may be transferred without probate (non-probate transfer laws) vary from state to state. Some common examples include life insurance death benefits and bank accounts.

Probate can be expensive financially as well as time-consuming. Additionally, all associated probate documents are searchable as part of the public record. Many people choose to avoid probate to save money, reduce conflict amongst their heirs, and to keep their personal affairs private.

It is important to choose the right attorney, otherwise it is not uncommon for an Arizona probate to cost several thousand dollars and take 4-6 months, and even up to 18 months in complicated cases.

It doesn’t need to. At LifePlan Legal AZ, we offer fixed cost probate for both small estates and informal probate matters.

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