1. DO I NEED A LIVING TRUST?
If the market value of your estate exceeds $166,500.00 you NEED a Living Trust. If you don’t own real property and your estate is valued at under $166,500.00.00 at minimum, you need a Will. Either way, you need one or the other, along with a Durable Power of Attorney, an Advance Health Care Directive and HIPAA, just in case you become incapacitated for a period of time prior to dying.
2. DO – IT YOUR-SELFERS – WATCH OUT!
Be cautious of the do-it-yourself type of Trust documents you find on the internet, after you die you cannot go back and fix grave errors that may cost your beneficiaries thousands of dollars. Probate will cost ten to twenty times more than the cost of an Estate Plan, and somebody else distributes your estate for you the way they think it should be distributed. Probate should never be your first option. When you refuse to move forward and take care of your financial legacy, sadly, you are choosing Probate without even being aware of it.
3. WHAT DOES THE ESTATE PLANNING LEGAL CENTER CHARGE FOR ESTATE PLANS?
Our firm charges between $1,250.00 and $1,650.00 for an Individual Estate Package and between $1,650.00 and $2,200.00 for a Marital Estate Package. Our estate plan packages cover individuals and families with very small estates along with families with estates valued in the millions. The downtown firm that Diane worked with for many years charges upwards of $4,300.00 for the same estate plan packages offered by the Estate Planning Legal Center, APC. We have amended many documents prepared by “prestigious” looking law offices throughout San Diego and we are well aware of the many estate plans out there.
4. A LIVING TRUST -TAKING CARE OF THOSE YOU LOVE:
How will you benefit from a Revocable Living Trust?
- No probate, hence, eliminating extra expenses and delay of distribution of assets.
- A living trust can provide tax benefits and possible tax savings.
- A Trust provides privacy, unlike Probate, in which all documents are open to public view.
- If you become incapacitated or incompetent, there may be no need to appoint a conservatorship for you.
- Since the trust is Living, it continues to live and provide for the benefit of your heirs or minor children in the event you do not want an outright distribution to a child or young adult or directly to the Guardian of your minor children.
5. IS A WILL NECESSARY IF I HAVE A LIVING TRUST?
Yes, here are a few reasons why:
- A Will acts as a safety net; it is a catch-all. A will pours assets over into your trust just in case you have forgotten to do it yourself.
- A Will acts as a back up to deal with any property that is not included in the living trust, either because it was improperly transferred or acquired after the creation of the trust, or inherited by a spouse who died a month or so prior to you and you never had a chance to claim the funds and add your own beneficiary to the account.
- A will also covers property that was intentionally left out of the trust, (cars, and personal checking accounts).
- A Will addresses the provisions, i.e.: guardianships, for minor children and any other dependents you wish to provide care for.
- A Will is useful when closing out assets not in your Trust, for example selling your vehicle, and closing utility accounts if your home will be sold.
6. IF I DIE WITHOUT A WILL OR TRUST, WHAT WILL HAPPEN?
The Probate Court steps in and decides who will become the guardian of your minor children and who will administer and distribute your estate (with a hefty probate fee attached of course). Child Protective Services (CPS) will place your children in a home like the Polinsky Center, where they will remain until a guardian can be sorted out and approved by the court.
The State of California decides who will get your stuff and who will get your money. The State charges your heirs for dividing up your money and your stuff before they get it.
Why does this matter?
- Your minor children will be placed in a home until a suitable guardian is appointed, and may be placed with somebody you never wanted them to be with-ever.
- At 18 years of age, children are considered an adult, which is the legal age of distribution. Children would receive their entire inheritance at age 18 without a Will. Yikes!
- A stranger selected by the court as executor may be inappropriate. – Many times because they want to be paid for the job, not because they love your children.
- The people getting your stuff and your money (your beneficiaries) may not be those you wanted to have what the court decides to give them.
7. I DID MY OWN WILL OR TRUST ONLINE, ISN’T THIS GOOD ENOUGH?
No, these are few reasons why:
- Your competency at the time you wrote your Will or trust can easily be challenged. Many times the law firm who prepared the Will is called to testify to your competency if brought into question.
- Many online documents have cost their heirs fortunes just by omitting a phrase which has invalidated whole provisions.
- Has it been properly witnessed to be considered a legal document? Has the trust been properly funded?
- Lawsuits challenging Trusts and Wills are expensive and usually compromise the intended beneficiary’s inheritance and may result in someone you intentionally disinherited getting a piece of the pie.
- If anything is unclear because of the non-legal language used, the Will or Trust can easily be invalidated.
8. IS THE ESTATE PLANNING LEGAL CENTER, APC, A COMPETENT LAW FIRM?
- Yes, we are. Why? Many firms handle many types of cases. They take whatever comes in the door. We don’t do that. We specialize in the area of Estate Planning preparing hundreds of Estate Plans, Amendments, and Wills every year. We consider our firm extremely knowledgeable in just about every type of Trust. We know why certain paragraphs should be added to your Trust and why others should be omitted. Estate Planning is what we do.
- In the process of preparing Amendments, we must read through estate plans prepared by law firms from all over San Diego County and throughout California; so our law firm knows what other estate planning work is out there, some very good, some not so good, and some, very bad.
- You will work directly with attorney Diane Haisha-DeForest as your attorney, not a team of paralegals with an attorney’s name on the work. She will sit with you and explain what each document does for you and why you need it. You will not be placed in a Trust Mill and receive a document out of a machine that you cannot even understand.
- The Estate Planning Legal Center, APC is available afterward for questions you may have regarding your documents, so the representation does not end when you’re Trust and other documents are complete. There is never an additional charge to ask questions or send an email to the firm, but if you are requesting legal advice or additional work, then, of course, we must charge you.
- We have over twenty years of experience and have served thousands of happy clients. Most of our clients have been referred to us from previous clients.
- You will not be sent home with documents only to now have to locate a notary at another cost of $250 + before your documents are legal. (All Internet Trust services do this). Nor will you have the surprise of the attorney telling you that to title your real property into the name of your trust, was not included in the quoted price and that will be $275.00 extra, plus recording fees! Internet legal services piecemeal their documents so that by the time you get everything you need – you HAVE paid more for the online documents than had you sat down at our firm with Diane and had her explain everything to you. We have added it up, you can too. You will not be getting a bargain going online or to your local office supply store. They do not provide ongoing legal assistance if you need it afterward. Their representation ends when they ship your document to you for witnessing and notarizing.
9. NEED A SUCCESSOR TRUSTEE?
For those clients that put off getting their Revocable Living Trust and other estate planning documents prepared because they don’t have a successor trustee they can name, our firm has the answer. We act as the successor Trustee for one in five of our client’s Trusts.
We distribute, sell, donate or otherwise liquidate your assets per your request in your documents, we sell your home, yes, we are very competent real estate brokers, we can remove all junk after beneficiaries have taken what they would like, we have a team who can paint, do electrical work, plumbing, you name it! We are extremely competent in administering your estate and making sure your assets get to your named beneficiaries without the family fighting with each other regarding the distribution of your Estate.
FYI: If you don’t feel you have anybody you really trust, or somebody that you know will be competent as your successor trustee – please consider naming our firm. We are extremely experienced in Trust Administration -you will be glad you did.
10. HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET MY DOCUMENTS PREPARED?
The average Estate Plan is ready in approximately 7-14 days once we have received all of the necessary information required to complete your documents. If you need them sooner, please let us know, we are very flexible and can accommodate just about any situation. Don’t wait until a deadly diagnosis or a family trip to decide you need a plan in place; try to do it when you are in a good place with a clear head- but if you do wait, we are here to help you, and yes, we make mobile notary calls to the hospital if that’s where you find yourself.
11. I WOULD LIKE AN ESTATE PLAN, BUT I DON’T DRIVE, WHAT DO I DO?
The Estate Planning Legal Center provides MOBILE SERVICE to all of those clients who are handicapped, ill, unable to drive, request it because of conflicting work schedules with a spouse, in a hospital or assisted living facility, live 30 minutes or more from the firm’s location and don’t want to drive that far, have very young children which make it difficult to travel, or just because you feel more comfortable in your own environment. We understand that.
12. WILL THE ESTATE PLANNING LEGAL CENTER KEEP ME UPDATED ON CHANGES IN THE LAW?
Yes, we currently have a blog and we are adding a newsletter in 2022. Once your documents are complete you are added to our email newsletter. This newsletter will keep you informed of any changes in the law, and other items we believe you should be aware of that may affect your estate plan. You may unsubscribe if you do not find this information useful, but we believe you won’t.
13. HOW DO I GET STARTED?
Call us, or text us @ (858) 560-0776. You may also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. It is so easy to make an appointment with us. Kindly leave us a message letting us know what you would like and we will call you back.
We have convenient hours, weekdays, weeknights, and weekends.
14. CAN I PAY WITH A CREDIT CARD?
For your convenience, you can pay with cash, check, VISA, MasterCard, American Express. Half of the fee is due just prior to the creation of your documents, which is usually your first appointment; the remaining balance is due at document signing.
We look forward to meeting with you soon. If you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.