FAQ

FAQ

1. DO I NEED A LIVING TRUST?
If the market value of your estate exceeds $100,000 you NEED a Living Trust. If you don’t own real property and your estate is valued at under $100,000, 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 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 LAW OFFICES OF DIANE HAISHA-DEFOREST CHARGE?
Our firm charges between $695.00 and $1,650.00 for an Individual Estate Package and between $995.00 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 over three years charges $3,200 for the same estate plan packages offered by the Estate Planning Legal Center, APC.  We have amended many documents prepared by “pretigious” looking law offices throughout San Diego.

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.
  • If you become incapacitated or incompetent, there will 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 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 way:

  • A Will acts like 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.
  • 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.

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).

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 may be placed with somebody you never wanted them to be with.
  • 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. –
  • 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 online documents have cost their heirs fortunes just by omitting a phrase that 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 LAW OFFICE OF DIANE HAISHA-DEFOREST A COMPETENT 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 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.
  • You will work directly with attorney Diane Haisha-DeForest, 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 afterwards 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 with a question you need answered.
  • We have over a decade of experience, and have served thousands of 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) Internet legal services piece meal 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 on-going legal assistance if you need it afterwards. 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 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 experience 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 7-10 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.

11. I WOULD LIKE AN ESTATE PLAN, BUT I DON’T DRIVE, WHAT DO I DO?
The Law Offices of Diane Haisha-DeForest, Esq. 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 LAW OFFICES OF DIANE HAISHA-DEFOREST  KEEP ME UPDATED ON CHANGES IN THE LAW?
Yes, we currently have a blog and we are adding a newsletter early 2012. Once your documents are complete you are added to our email newsletter. This newsletter will keep you informed on 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?
Go ONLINE and Schedule An Appointment. It is so easy to do. If you feel more comfortable calling us, please do at (858) 560-0776. Or you may email us, at diane@estateplanninglegalcenter.com if you would like us to call you.

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 or PayPal. Half of the fee is due just prior to the creation of your documents; 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 call us.