As you plan for the inevitable, a number of factors come into play. There are quite a few things you should consider before you pass away or are become incapacitated. This advance planning will greatly assist the person tasked with administering your estate.
An estate planning attorney Carlsbad can help you cover your bases and mitigate the chances of a fight over your estate and decision making among your loved ones. Commonly overlooked issues include:
- Decision Making Within a Family Home — In certain instances, you may be the patriarch or matriarch of your family. Filling that gap may be difficult as different family members may try to exert control over family events and family decisions.
- Distributing Personal Property — Make sure your Will and/or Trust does not overlook your tangible, personal property (e.g. jewelry, artwork, furniture, clothing, photographs, etc.). In the case of a Trust, consider assigning all such property to your Trust (by way of an Assignment) and using a personal property memorandum to help dictate how personal property is divided among family members.
- Choice of Administrator, Executor, or Trustee — Who will take up the administration of your estate and be responsible for: payment of last illness and funeral expenses; payment of bills left behind; payment of taxes; and distribution of assets to your beneficiaries?
- Money Owed to you — Have you loaned or advanced money to your children? What happens to those amounts after you have passed? Do you wish for them to be forgiven, or would you prefer for them to reduce your child’s inheritance?
Clearly, these are just a few of the factors for which you should plan. The right attorney will provide you guidance on these and many more factors.
Where to Keep the Estate Planning Document?
After signing your Will, Trust and other estate planning documents, you will need to find a safe place to keep them. A fire safe box at home may be a good option, provided you are comfortable providing your successor trustee and/or executor the code.
A safe deposit box at a bank is an option. In this event, in some circumstances you may be best served by titling the box in the name of your Trust. This may reduce the time it takes for your successor trustee to access the box on your death or incapacity. This may also reduce / eliminate the chances that your documents are stolen – a concern for some clients.
You can also ask your Carlsbad wills and trust attorney for his keep advice, and perhaps to keep an electronic copy on file. From there, you can distribute electronic versions of your estate planning documents to your trustee and/or executor for safe keeping, provided again you are comfortable providing them this information and feel that they are capable of safeguarding personal / confidential information.
Traps when Planning an Estate:
- Consider a Trust if you have minor or disabled beneficiaries.
- Do not create a Trust or Will on your own or through an online company without having it reviewed by a qualified estate planning attorney.
- Review your estate plan every 3-5 years and after major life events (marriage, divorce, additional children, new grandchildren, etc.).
- Fund your Trust (i.e. make sure your Trust is the title-holder of various assets; but understand that certain assets – like certain retirement accounts – should never be titled in the name of your Trust).
- Do not lose your original Trust or Will, or put it in a place where nobody else can find it. Under California law, there exists a presumption that a lost Will may have been intentionally revoked – which could throw your entire estate plan out the window.
It may be hard to remember all the “do’s and don’ts” listed above, but a trust and estate planning attorney Carlsbad CA will be able to guide you through successful estate planning – and dramatically help your loved ones shield your estate from unnecessary court costs, taxes, and family turmoil.