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Frequently Asked Questions

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When should I begin planning my estate?

You should definitely start planning as soon as possible. Many think you need to be retired, or have a large net worth to plan your estate. The truth is if you are married, divorced, have children, own a business, own property, or own a home, have bought or sold stock or have moved between states you should talk to an estate planning attorney.

Can I sell my house if it is in a trust?

Yes. Revocable living trusts do not impede your ability to buy or sell a home. There is no restriction or penalty for adding or removing assets from a revocable living trust.

Isn't estate planning for the wealthy?

No, there are many other reasons for estate planning. Providing for the care of children, communicating end-of-life care and religious needs and providing for power of attorney are just of few of the other issues require careful planning.

What if I am uncomfortable discussing end-of-life decisions?

Many people do not want to talk about wills or end-of-life care because it reminds us of our own mortality. It can be very uncomfortable and difficult to discuss such things with an attorney you have just met. However, the estate planning process is about providing for your family and loved ones during your life in addition to planning for your death. I do my best to make this process as comfortable as possible and you will have time to make these decisions, even after leaving my office.

Can't I do my estate planning through LeagalZoom or other do-it-myself methods?

You can create the documents online, but you may end up with very poorly drafted documents that are not tailored to your specific needs. For the majority of people who try to complete their estate planning using these low-cost options, the old saying applies “you get what you pay for” and you may end up spending more money in the long run for a experienced attorney to do it right. Unfortunately, you may never know that your do-it-yourself plan or the plan drafted by the lowest cost attorney is inadequate because the mistake is discovered after it is too late (i.e. incapacity and at death).

What if I already have a Trust?

If you have already put some planning in place, congratulations on making that important step. If your plan is several years old, it is highly recommended that the plan be reviewed for any law changes, family changes or situational changes. Also, many Trusts are not funded properly or do not meet your goals of an estate plan. Our attorneys provide free consultations where they will look over a trust and explain any changes that need to be made.

How much does probate cost?

Probate can be expensive depending on what assets go through probate. Probate Code Sections 10800 and 10810 specify the statutory probate fees. The fees are 4% of the fair market value of your total estate for the first $150,000 and then 3% for the next $50,000, 2% of each dollar up to $1M, 1% of each additional dollar from $1M to $10M and 0.5% of each additional dollar from $10M to $25M.  Also, keep in mind that the statutory fees are paid to both the Executor of the Will and the Probate Attorney so you can multiply the fee by two.  There are also additional fees, such as filing fees and probate referee fees.  With all that said, Probate is expensive and creating a Trust-based plan can not only save expense, but allow privacy and smooth administration at death.

What happens if something changes after I have set everything up?

A revocable living trust can be amended or revoked at anytime so there is no reason to worry that things are set in stone. If you realize you need to make some minor changes within three month after we execute your plan, I will be happy to make the necessary changes at no cost to you.  Throughout the planning process, we will discuss review opportunities and keeping your plan up to date.  Your estate plan is not a one-and-done proposition.  While I draft your trust to account for some changes in the law, if there is a major tax code change or a significant change in your plan, we may need to make some changes to your plan and the costs of changes will be discussed at the time so there is no surprise billing.

What is included in an Estate Plan?

Everyone, regardless of age or wealth, needs a Core Essential Estate Plan to protect you and your loved ones from government involvement in the event of incapacity and to ease distribution of your estate by keeping your affairs private and outside of court. The Core Essentials Estate Plan includes design and drafting of specific documents customized to your particular situation, including, if necessary:

  • A Trust Agreement and Summary of Trust Agreement
  • Certification of Trust
  • Confirmation of Names and Fiduciaries of Trust
  • Trustee’s Affidavit
  • Assignment of Personal Property to Trust
  • Last Will & Testament
  • Personal Property Memorandum
  • General Durable Power of Attorney
  • Advance Health Care Directive
  • HIPAA Authorization for Release of Health Care Information

Because Trusts are not effective until funding, we will discuss funding of the Trusts. If Cheever Law, APC accomplishes the funding, an additional fee may be charged.

How much does it cost to put a plan in place?

The cost of your Core Essential Estate Plan will depend on your particular circumstances and what is necessary for you and your family. The Firm has an established Three Levels of Planning and a fee schedule to determine the flat fee for your Core Essential Estate Plan. By choosing your level of planning, you decide the level of your fee based on your budget and needs.

Can't I do my business planning through LegalZoom or other do-it-myself methods?

You can create a business online, but it will not help you foresee and plan for litigation down the road nor will it provide you the proper planning your business needs. Proper planning and creation of bylaws are essential to a successful business. Avoiding future litigation and misunderstandings between partners that can lead to the failure of the business can be an invaluable start to your business.  I’ve discussed this matter further in my blog entitled The Disadvantages of Online and Do It Yourself (DIY) Estate Planning.  Click here to read more.

If it is just me, do I need to incorporate my business?

It depends. You should have some sort of entity to protect your personal assets, such as your home, but that does not mean you need to be incorporated. Each situation is different and, depending on your goals, incorporation might not be the best option. I can help you choose the best entity for your particular business that will put you in the best position for future success.

Why do I need corporate bylaws?

Bylaws help create the culture of your business. They can be the difference between partners defining positions now so the business can grow successfully or having major litigation over a misunderstanding down the road that could lead to the failure of the business.

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