Wills & Trusts

Many Estate Planning Attorneys handle Wills and Trusts, Elder Law, and Probate Law and can broadly represent seniors throughout their aging years, and after their death. They represent your parents and their wishes to set up the proper legal foundation in anticipation of their death; typically called a trust.

  • A trust is a legal entity that has three components
  • The Trustmaker; usually the individual who creates and “owns” the assets and assigns them over to the entity.
  • The Trustee; the individual responsible for handling the day to day operations and financial management of the entity.
  • The Beneficiary; those who benefit and receive the benefits of the Trust.
  • A Revocable Living Trust is simply a type of trust that can be changed at any time. A provision in the trust, the beneficiary or the trustee, and the terms can be modified through a trust amendment. It can also be revoked in its entirety.
  • An Irrevocable Living Trust cannot be changed and the Trustmaker cannot be the Trustee or Beneficiary. Irrevocable trusts are typically managed by attorneys or fiduciary officers.

Services

Estate Planning Attorney’s setup/serve:

  • trusts which can either be “revocable” or “irrevocable” depending on the specialized needs and desires of a parent
  • proper estate planning to avoid probate and other matters after death
  • a “Living Trust” which goes into effect while the individual is still alive, but converts to a Testamentary trust upon their death
  • as executors of estates
  • as administer Trusts as Trustee
  • powers of attorney so designated individuals can act on the behalf of the senior, in case he or she becomes incapacitated

Specialization

Make sure the attorney a member of the National and State Bar Association and degrees are valid.

Preparation

Many financial experts advise that an impartial third party handle all estate matters. Doing so avoids putting additional burden on one heir and can lessen family conflict.

  • Be clear on  the senior’s capability of making financial decisions. If not, is there already a power of attorney in place?
  • The holder of the Power of Attorney needs to be the point person in dealing with Estate Planning issues
  • What are the financial assets to be distributed
  • Who will be the executor and beneficiaries of the estate?

Evaluation

  • Research the attorney’s experience; is he/she a specialist in Special Needs Trusts?
  • How well-versed in disability benefits, SSI, Medicaid, wills, trusts, and estate planning?
  • Know about pricing:
  • Retaining fees; hourly rates
  • Are paralegals substituted when appropriate
  • Describe all piece-meal charges
  • Is a complimentary consultation provided?
  • How many years experience specifically in handling Wills, Trusts and Estates?
  • What percentage of the attorney’s practice is devoted to estate planning- most specifically Wills and Trusts?
  • How much training has the attorney had, and from what organizations?
  • Will the administration of senior estates, trusts and wills be handled;  or only the estate planning side?

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