Estate Planning FAQ's

Estate Planning & Arizona Living Trust FAQs

What is estate planning?
Estate planning is the accumulation, the preservation, and the distribution of your assets. It is accomplishing your personal family goals and easing the management of your estate, as well as minimizing taxes. We offer personalized estate planning in Scottsdale and surrounding Maricopa County, Arizona that helps to ensure that your assets go to whom you want, when you want, while you are living and when you die.

Why do I need an estate plan?
Most of us spend a considerable amount of time and energy in our lives accumulating wealth. With this, there comes a time to preserve wealth both for enjoyment and future generations. A solid, effective estate plan ensures that your hard-earned wealth will remain intact as it passes to your beneficiaries, instead of being siphoned off to government processes and bureaucrats.

What will happen to my property if I die without a will or trust?
If you die without a will or trust, the state determines who will be your ultimate heirs. This distribution plan can be found in the intestacy statues of each state.

What is probate?
Probate is the court procedure used to change title to assets from the name of an individual who has passed away into the name of the living beneficiaries. It is also where all creditors of a decedent file claims to collect their debts and where interested parties who have a complaint regarding the deceased can file their complaint (a will contest). Even without a contest, probate can be costly and time-consuming. Probate is a public proceeding

Can probate be avoided?
Probate can be avoided with careful planning. There are a number of different techniques for doing so which can be used alone or in combination.

What are the Advantages of a Trust?
Many people create a trust so that their assets avoid probate. Assets held by the trustee in trust are not subject to probate and may be managed and distributed by the trustee or successor trustee on the death of the trustor.

Why should I have a Living Trust?
Not only does an Arizona Living Trust provide for the disposition of your property (like a Will), but it also offers the following benefits: (1) Provides for the immediate transfer of assets after death (if desired); (2) Allows for a smooth transition of management upon incapacity or death; (3) Avoids the expense and hassle of probate proceedings; (4) Minimizes estate taxes and defers payment of estate taxes for married couples; (5) Allows for continued control over assets after death or incapacity; (6) Provides security to you and your loved ones; (7) Offers flexibility.

Can I transfer real estate into a Living Trust?
YES. In fact, all real estate should be transferred into your Living Trust. Otherwise, upon your death, depending on how you hold the title, there will be a death probate in every state in which you hold real property. When your real property is owned by your Living Trust, there is no probate anywhere.

Why do I need a Pour Over Will if I have a Living Trust? A Pour Over Will is used first to name a guardian for minor children. Second, it protects against intestacy in the event any assets have not been transferred into the trust at the death of the Trustor/Owner. Its function is to "pour" any assets left out of the trust into it so they are ultimately distributed according to the terms of the trust.

Isn't a Living Trust only for the rich? NO. A Living Trust can help anyone protect his or her family from unnecessary probate fees, attorney's fees, court costs and federal estate taxes. In fact, if your estate is greater than $100,000 you'll find that a Living Trust offers substantial benefits for you and your family.

The possibility of a disabling injury or illness scares me. What would happen if I were mentally disabled and had no estate plan or just a will? Unfortunately, you would be subject to "living probate," also known as a conservatorship or guardianship proceeding. If you become mentally disabled before you die, the probate court will appoint someone to take control of your assets and personal affairs. These "court-appointed agents" must file a strict accounting of your finances with the court. The process is often expensive, time-consuming and humiliating.

What are the advantages of a durable power of attorney for property?
A durable power of attorney can be a better way to deal with incapacity than a guardianship or conservatorship. If properly created, it may avoid the court proceedings that a guardianship or conservatorship requires.

Learn more about setting up a living trust, an IRA Beneficiary Trusts, and much more. Call us today.