A. Probate is a court-supervised proceeding that authenticates your Will (if you have one) and approves your named Executor so he or she can distribute your property and belongings. During the probate process, all your assets must be located and assessed for total value. Once that is done, taxes and debts are paid and the remaining value of the estate is distributed.
Q. Do I need a Trust if I have a Will?
A. Maybe. A Will directs how a deceased person's assets are to be distributed after death and are useful if assets are under $100,000 or less and a person doesn't own real estate. A Living Trust is helpful to avoid probate and is a separate legal entity that assets are placed into during a person's life and after death.
Q. Can I buy an estate plan online and still protect my family?
A. While it is possible to buy an estate plan online, it is not advisable. Each estate plan is based on the uniqueness of each situation.
Q. Do I need to be wealthy or have a lot of property to benefit from estate planning?
A. No. Everyone should have a will, financial power of attorney, advanced health care directive and other helpful documents tailored to their own situation.
Q. What property is included in a person's Probate Estate?
A. A person's probate estate includes only property that is subject to court estate administration after the death of the individual or incapacity. Examples of probate property are houses, cars, furniture, stocks, bonds, and bank accounts titled in a person's name.
Q. What is a Living Trust?
A. A Living Trust (also known as an "Inter-Vivos" trust, is a trust agreement that becomes effective during the lifetime of the person who created the Trust. That person may change or revoke the terms of the Trust during his or her lifetime (referred to as a "Revocable Trust." This Revocable Living Trust is a contract made between the person who creates the Trust (sometimes known as the "Grantor" or "Trustor," and the Trustee who is the person responsible for carrying out the terms of the Trust and managing the property for the benefit of the beneficiaries.
Q. What is a Beneficiary?
A. A Beneficiary is the person(s) who receives assets upon the death of another. A Beneficiary named in a Trust Agreement is the person who is entitled to enforce the terms of the Trust Agreement regarding distribution of the Trust Assets to be received by the named Beneficiary or Beneficiaries.
Q. What is a Guardian?
A. A Guardian is a person who is appointed through a court of law. A Guardian is responsible for providing proper food, health care, medical attention, housing, and other necessities for the minor child or a person who is incapacitated or incapable for providing for himself or herself . The need for a Guardianship may be eliminated with a properly executed health care power of attorney.