Category: Estate Planning

What is a Revocable Living Trust?

October 21, 2013  |  William F. Huefner

A revocable living trust is one way to approach estate planning. People use revocable living trusts to bypass the probate process. Think of a trust as a sort of legally created box. Once you create the box you can start filling it with your assets. This is known as “funding the trust.” The assets could be anything: bank accounts, real estate, cars, boats or anything else that you own. To fund it property is retitled into the appropriate trust. As long as you’re still alive you’ll maintain total control over these assets. For example, if you place your house in the trust you would continue to live in the home, repair it or update it as you saw fit, and pay any and all bills associated with it. When you die, control of these assets will be in the hands of the successor trustee who can then transfer your assts to the beneficiaries. Revocable living trusts will not end up in probate at all. They’re also harder to dispute than wills are, which makes them very attractive to people who are in difficult or complicated family situations. However, revocable living trusts can’t handle every aspect of your estate planning process. You will still need a will. A will is the only document that…

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The Disadvantages of DIY Estate Planning

September 23, 2013  |  William F. Huefner

These days it seems like there are thousands of DIY legal forms on the Internet. To believe some websites you don’t really need a law degree to practice law—you just need the right “template!” But attorneys need special training and licensing for a reason. The law can be a tricky thing, especially when it comes to estate planning. If you do something incorrectly while writing your will then you could end up costing your heirs a great deal of time and money trying to fix your mistakes. Legal language is written in a very precise way. It’s meant to eliminate ambiguity and to address specific issues that you might not think of. Something that seems very clear to you may not make any sense at all to your heirs or the court. Your DIY will could also leave your last wishes vulnerable to a challenge from your relatives. Ultimately, your will could be discounted as invalid, and it would be as if you’d never written one at all. Attorneys also know how to ask you the right questions. This ensures that you address everything that you need to address. It ensures that you don’t miss anything important. There are parts of your estate that you probably don’t think much about on a day…

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Make a Will: It Won’t Kill You!

September 16, 2013  |  William F. Huefner

Many people avoid the process of estate planning because of fear. There is a persistent superstition that says that you will die soon after you make your will. Fortunately, making a will does not invite death any more than any other activity you do. A will is just a plan for what will happen when you die. Many people make out wills and then go about living their lives for decades after. Dave Ramsey, the popular financial expert, has a pretty good comment to make on the subject of wills. In The Total Money Makeover he writes: “You are going to die, so do it in style, and do it with a will!” Ask yourself whether or not you would want the state to make decisions about your property, children, pets, or debts. If the answer is “no” then you definitely need to engage in some estate planning. If you have a lot of assets then you will definitely want to engage in this process to make sure that your life’s work is not distributed in a way that would be unpalatable to you. A will is simply another thing that you should take care of. It’s just a piece of business, much like filing your taxes, paying your bills, or buying insurance….

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