Most people think of Estate Planning solely as an end of life tool. That is an essential part of Estate Planning, but there are more. I like to think of the end of life portion as the pinnacle of a pyramid. At the base there is getting an understanding of your estate; things and people. As we move up the pyramid there is healthcare, incapacity, and how your life is maintained.
As parents we all worry in the back of our heads about our children being cared for after we are gone. Hopefully we all get to see our children grow into adulthood and never have to worry about guardians and leaving money to minor children. As the saying goes, "hope for the best, plan for the worst."
A couple that I worked with this year was surprised to learn that they need a Will to go along with their Trust based Estate Plan.
This couple came to me with a Will based Estate Plan that they had for years. These was nothing wrong with their plan when it was setup. However, as time passes, circumstances change as to your Estate Planning needs.
After learning about their current circumstances, we all agreed that a Trust based Estate Plan was right for them.
When they came in for their signing cermony, we reviewed their Trust and other documents. The couple was surprised that switching form a Will based to Trust based Estate Plan would require them to still have Will.
Just last week I met with a client with three children. They wanted to leave the home they had built to all three of their children.
This can, and often is a bad idea. When you leave a single piece of real property to more than one person, conflicts can often arises. Most likely they will take ownership as tenants in common...meaning that each of them owns a undivided interest in the whole property.
"How do I avoid probate?" "Why should I avoid probate?"
I get asked questions like this all the time. Many people have heard that avoiding probate is a good thing, but they aren't sure how and why.
The how is relatively easy...create a Trust based estate plan. By having a properly funded trust, your estate will not require a probate.