A COMPLETE ESTATE PLAN includes:
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A REVOCABLE LIVING TRUST
A “Trust” is a Legal entity (like a corporation) which exists only on paper, but can legally own Property. A Trust is created by simply signing a document called a Trust Agreement, and then transferring your Property to the Trust as the technical owner of Title. The Trust document allows you to give specific instructions regarding how your Property is to be used.
The kind of Trust offered in our Complete Estate Plan is a “Revocable Living Trust.” The main reason to use a Revocable Living Trust is to save your Family time and money by avoiding Probate. The Living Trust performs the same basic function as a Will, without Probate.
The word “Revocable” means you may change the terms of your Trust at any time. The term “Living” refers to creation of a Trust while you are alive (some Trusts are created at death).
When you create a Revocable Living Trust, you appoint yourself Trustee, with full authority to manage the Trust Property. After your passing, the person you named in your Trust document to be “Successor Trustee” will take over and distribute the Trust Property according to your directions in the Trust document. In this way, the Trust performs the same function as a Will, without the delay and expense of Probate. In most cases, the whole process can be handled in a couple of weeks, whereas the Probate process may take years.
POWER OF ATTORNEY
A “Power of Attorney” is a Legal document authorizing someone you choose to act for you regarding Financial or Healthcare decisions. The Power of Attorney document is very valuable in the event you are ill or away from home. You still retain your rights to act on your own behalf, and you can cancel at any time.
Your Complete Estate Plan will include a Power of Attorney for Healthcare decisions, as well as a General Power of Attorney.
A “Healthcare Directive,” also referred to as a Living Will, is a statement of your wish to request or to refuse life-prolonging medical treatment in the event you are in a coma.
The Healthcare Directive is used to express your wish to pass away naturally. Present a copy of this document to your doctor to ensure your wishes are known. Contrary to its name, a Living Will has nothing to do with Property disposition.
A “Will” is a Legal declaration of your decisions as to how your Property and Estate are to be handled after your passing. A Will is an absolute necessity for parents with minor children in order for them to name a Guardian.
Upon passing, the Will is presented to a Court in the process called Probate. This process usually takes more than a year at considerable expense. People are now using a Living Trust to avoid the unnecessary time and expense of Probate.
Every Living Trust should be backed up by a Will to handle any Property that was not transferred into your Living Trust. A Will used together with a Living Trust is called a “Pour-over” Will because the Will pours such Property into your Living Trust at your passing.