Frequently Asked Questions

Estate Planning FAQ

Living trusts are most commonly used to avoid probate, an often time-consuming and costly court proceeding. Without a trust or some other type of estate planning tool, your estate must go through the probate process before you property can be distributed to your heirs. But before you decide to create a living trust, you need to be aware of some of the pros and cons of a living trust. A Reno living trust and estate planning attorney can explain all of your options if you are seeking to avoid probate.

What exactly is a living trust?

A “living trust” is basically one type of trust that goes into effect while you are still alive, as opposed to only becoming effective after your death. As with all other kinds of trusts, the property that is transferred to the trust will be held and managed by the trustee you select, until it is time to transfer that property to your heirs. Typically, a living trust only covers particular property or assets, not the entire estate.

What are the advantages of a living trust?

The primary advantage to establishing a living trust is the ability to avoid probate. By creating a living trust, you can save significant time and money. You can also avoid many potential problems that often arise when the assets of an estate are distributed to heirs. There are also many tax advantages that can be gained from a living trust. Living trusts have the potential of reducing estate taxes. They are also much more private than the probate process, which is a matter of public record. So, if maintaining privacy is important for you, then living trust attorneys will often recommend this type of trust.

Do living trusts provide legal protection for assets?

Another big advantage of creating a living trust is that it comes with certain legal protections that other estate planning tools may not offer. Because a living trust is a legal document, it is enforceable by the court much like a contract. So, if there are any challenges to asset transfers, the court will enforce the terms of the trust document, as the best evidence of your intentions.

Are there any disadvantages to having a living trust?

As helpful as a living trust may be, it does have its disadvantages. One disadvantage is that having a living trust alone is usually not sufficient. Most people name themselves as the initial trustee of their own living trust. That way they can maintain control over their property during their lifetime. However, your successor trustee (who takes over after your death) may not have the power to manage any property that was not included in the living trust before your death. For that you would likely need for a power of attorney.

Who controls the proper I transfer to my living trust?

The great thing about a living trust is that you can designate anyone you choose as your trustee, including yourself. In fact, in most cases people name themselves trustee of their living trust in order to retain complete control of their assets. They can continue to buy and sell assets and remove them from the trust whenever they see fit. If you are married, you can also designate your spouse as the co-trustee. In order for the trust to continue to operate after your death, you need only designate a successor trust to take over upon your death.

Do I need a Reno estate planning attorney to help create my living trust?

Although creating a living trust requires simply transferring the title or ownership of your assets to the trust, the language of the trust agreement needs to be properly drafted. For that reason, it is wise to seek legal advice from an estate planning attorney in Reno. Living trust attorneys are skilled and experienced at creating this valuable estate planning tool and will make sure it is done correctly.

Estate & Gift Tax Planning FAQ

How much will my family pay in estate taxes?

The answer to this question all depends on the extent of your resources as they compare to the amount of the federal estate tax credit or exclusion. At the time of this writing, the exclusion is over $11 million, and there are annual adjustments to account for inflation. If the value of your estate does not exceed this amount, there would be no federal estate tax exposure.

What is the estate tax rate?

The federal estate tax rate is a whopping 40%, so it can have a very significant impact on your legacy if your estate is in taxable territory.

Is the estate tax applicable on transfers to all relatives?

The answer is yes, with one exception. If you are married, you can use the unlimited marital deduction to transfer assets to your spouse tax-free and vice versa. One caveat would be that the parties involved must be citizens of the United States.

You can just give gifts to avoid the estate tax, right?

The answer to this question all depends on the extent of your resources as they compare to the amount of the federal estate tax credit or exclusion. At the time of this writing, the exclusion is over $11 million, and there are annual adjustments to account for inflation. If the value of your estate does not exceed this amount, there would be no federal estate tax exposure.

Why don’t we hear from the IRS when we give birthday and holiday gifts?

In addition to the unified gift and estate tax exclusion, there is also an annual gift tax exclusion. This allows you to transfer up to $15,000 to any number of people within a calendar year without utilizing any of your unified exclusion.

You can pay school tuition for students tax-free, and there is a health care exemption that allows you to pay medical bills for others in a tax-free manner. This would include health care insurance premiums.

Are there estate taxes on the state level as well as the federal level?

Yes, there are, but we are fortunate here in Nevada because we do not have an estate tax in our state. However, if you own valuable property in a state that has an estate tax, it could be a factor for you.

If you have a farm or a ranch that you are going to pass along to your family, is the estate tax an obstacle?

Everything that you own, including real property such as a farm or a ranch, is looked upon as part of your estate by the Internal Revenue Service. People are sometimes forced to sell large tracts of land that have been in families for generations just to pay the estate tax.

Is there anything that you can do to mitigate your exposure?

There are estate tax efficiency strategies that can be implemented to keep a maximum store of assets in the family. The ideal way to proceed will depend upon the circumstances, because each case is different, and there are many tools in the estate planning toolkit.

The above being stated, in a general sense, irrevocable trusts can provide a solution in many cases. Generation-skipping trusts, grantor retained annuity trusts, charitable lead trusts, and qualified personal residence trusts are some of the devices that can be used to lessen the death tax burden.

LGBTQ Estate Planning FAQ

Why is estate planning especially important for the LGBTQ community in Reno NV?

LGBTQ estate planning has traditionally been absolutely essential in Reno, NV because of the fact that same-sex couples in long-term committed relationships could not get legally married in the eyes of the law. There are certain inherent protections that married people enjoy that did not extend to unmarried couples.

Since the landmark Supreme Court ruling in the Edith Windsor case, gay marriages are recognized by the federal government, so the unfair dynamic no longer exists.

What are these protections?

Even if you were to die without any estate planning documents, if you are married, your spouse would receive an inheritance in accordance with the Nevada intestate succession laws. A spouse would also be able to make medical decisions on behalf of his or her incapacitated partner.

The Supreme Court case revolved around another issue that would fit into this category. Windsor was forced to pay the federal estate tax when she inherited a large sum from her partner, Thea Spyer. They were legally married in Canada, but the United States federal government did not recognize the marriage.

There is an unlimited marital estate tax deduction that allows you to transfer unlimited assets to your spouse free of the estate tax. Windsor sued because she felt as though she should be able to use the marital deduction, and eventually, she won the case.

Is a will the right asset transfer vehicle if you are not very wealthy?

In most cases, a trust will be a better choice. The revocable living trust is a very versatile estate planning tool that is ideal for a wide range of different people. You don’t have to worry about surrendering control of assets in a living trust, because you can act as the trustee and the beneficiary while you are living.

When you establish the trust declaration, you name successors to assume these roles after you pass away. After your death, the trustee would follow the instructions and distribute assets to the beneficiaries in accordance with your wishes.

These distributions would not be subject to probate, which is a costly and time-consuming legal process. A will would be admitted to probate, so the probate avoidance factor is a major benefit, but there are others.

In addition to the living trust, there are other types of trust that can be used to satisfy a wide variety of different objectives. The right choice will depend upon the circumstances, and this is why it is important to discuss your unique situation with a licensed estate planning attorney.

ASIDE FROM ASSET TRANSFERS, ARE THERE ANY OTHER CONSIDERATIONS?

Yes, you should prepare for possible latter life incapacity. If you have a living trust, you can name a disability trustee to act as the administrator if you become unable to make sound decisions.

You could add a durable power of attorney for property to empower someone to manage assets that have not been conveyed into the trust. With a living will, you can state your preferences regarding the utilization of life-sustaining measures. Another document that should be added is a durable power of attorney for health care decision-making.
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Special Needs Financial Planning FAQ

Is there any risk involved if I leave a loved one with a disability a direct inheritance?

Some negative consequences can come about if you not take steps to implement an intelligently conceived plan. People with special needs are going to require costly medical care throughout their lives. For most, Medicaid is a much needed source of health insurance.

This program is only available to people with very limited assets. Though there are some possessions that do not count, the resource limit is just $2000. As a result, a sudden windfall could result in a loss of benefit eligibility.

Are there any other benefits that could be forfeited?

Yes, there is another need-based benefit that many people with disabilities rely upon to one extent or another. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) provides a very limited but steady source of income. Eligibility can be negatively impacted by a change in financial status.

What is the solution?

There is a legal device called a supplemental needs trust or special needs trust. If you were to establish this type of trust, you would be called the grantor, and the person that you want to provide for would be the beneficiary. You would fund the trust and name a trustee to serve as the administrator.

Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income do not necessarily satisfy all the needs of a benefit recipient. As long as the program rules are followed precisely, the trustee could use assets in the trust to satisfy these unmet needs without impacting ongoing benefit eligibility.

What happens to assets that may be left in the trust after the death of the beneficiary?

This is a very good question, and the answer underscores why effective special needs planning is so important on a couple of different levels. If you establish a trust for the benefit of another person, it would be a third-party trust, because the assets would be coming from someone other than the beneficiary.

Medicaid is required to seek reimbursement from the estates of people that were enrolled in the program during their lives. When a third-party special needs trust has been established, the remainder would be out of play during these estate recovery efforts.

As the grantor of the trust, you would name a secondary beneficiary to assume ownership of the remaining assets in the trust after the passing of the initial beneficiary. This transfer would not be subject to Medicaid recovery.

Why is there this distinction? Can a disabled person establish their own special needs trust?

These questions would naturally come to mind if you have been paying attention. Sometimes a person with a disability will come into money through a personal injury settlement, or even an inheritance that is clumsily passed along.

Under these circumstances, a representative of a person with a disability, such as a parent, a grandparent, a legal guardian, or a court, could use the assets to fund a special needs trust. This would be a first person or self-settled special needs trust.

The situation would be the same with regard to the ability of the trustee to utilize assets in the trust to satisfy the supplemental needs of the grantor/beneficiary. However, the assets would not be protected during estate recovery. This is the downside, and it can be quite costly depending on the extent of the resources in question.

Estate Pet Planning FAQ

Why would a senior citizen want to get a pet so late in life?

This is a good question, because there are responsibilities that go along with pet ownership. However, in some instances, a fine furry friend can make a huge positive difference in the lives of seniors but this means that Reno pet planning is essential.

An elder can feel a sense of loneliness after losing their spouse, other relatives, and friends. There is no substitute for these losses, but a dog or a cat can certainly provide some much-needed companionship.

In addition to the four-legged friend factor, there are other positives. A senior citizen can feel a renewed sense of purpose when they have to care for a pet, and this can be invaluable. Dogs need to go out for walks, and this can give an older pet owner a reason to get more exercise.

The trips to the park or the dog park can also be a way of socializing with other people. In addition to the physical benefits of exercise, researchers have found that pet ownership can improve mental health as well.

That makes sense, but from an estate planning perspective, can you leave someone a pet in your will?

Yes, you can legally do this, because the pet would be looked upon as your property. Of course, you don’t want to surprise anyone with a canine or feline bequest. If you want to go this route, you should be sure that the person that you have in mind is willing to care for the animal.

From a financial perspective, you could leave this individual a direct bequest with the understanding that the money will be used to care for the pet in certain ways.

However, at the end of the day, the human inheritor would own the pet and the money. There would be nothing stopping this person doing whatever they want to do with either.

Another thing to think about when it comes to this approach to pet planning is the amount of money that is bequeathed to the caretaker. If the pet dies shortly after you do, the caretaker would be in possession of assets that you could have transferred to someone else.

Is there a better pet planning solution?

Many would say that a pet trust would be a far better idea. If you establish and fund this type of trust for the benefit of your pet, you would name a trustee to act as the administrator.

In the trust declaration, you could leave detailed instructions about the way that you want the pet be cared for, and the trustee would be legally compelled to follow them. It should be noted that the trustee does not necessarily have to be the individual that will act as the pet’s caretaker.

When it comes to assets that may be left in the trust after the pet passes away, there is a very simple solution. You can name a successor beneficiary when you establish the trust, and this individual or entity would assume ownership of the remainder.

PROBATE & TRUST ADMINISTRATION FAQ

What is probate?

Probate is a legal process that will often come into play when assets are being transferred after someone passes away, which is why a Reno, NV probate lawyer is strongly encouraged. The probate court provides supervision during the estate administration process.

So a last will must go through probate?

If you were to create a last will, you would name an executor to serve as the administrator. This individual or entity would not have the ability to act independently. The will would be admitted to probate, and the court would determine its validity and supervise the proceedings.

It should be noted that assets cannot be distributed to the heirs that are named in the will until the estate has been probated and closed by the court.

How long does probate take?

There are variables with regard to complexities or lack thereof, but generally speaking, the timeframe would typically be between eight months and a year.

The waiting game does not sound very appealing. Are there any other probate drawbacks?

Probate expenses can be considerable. There are court costs, attorney fees, accounting charges, liquidation and appraisal expenses, and other incidentals. These expenditures reduce the amount of the inheritances that will eventually be received by the heirs.

Are all asset transfers subject to probate?

No, there are several different forms of transfers that take place outside of probate. These would include transfers to beneficiaries of individual retirement accounts and payable on death accounts.

Insurance policy proceeds would fit into this category as well, along with property that is held in joint tenancy.

Is there a proactive strategy that you can implement to avoid probate?

Yes, you could utilize a revocable living trust as the centerpiece of your estate plan instead of a last will. Assets in the trust would be distributed to the beneficiaries in accordance with your wishes after your passing, and the probate court would not be involved.

If there is no probate, how does the administration process work?

The terms that you set forth in the trust declaration are legally binding, so that is the inherent protection that is in place for all interested parties.

When it comes to the hands-on tasks, the trustee serves as the administrator. If you establish a revocable living trust, you could act as the trustee while you are alive and well.

In the trust declaration, you would name a successor trustee to assume the trust administration duties after you are gone. You could also empower this person or entity or someone else to administer the trust if you ever reach the point where you can no longer make sound decisions.

What “entity” can serve as a living trust trustee?

There are professionals that provide fiduciary services, and this can be the right choice if you want to be absolutely certain that the trust is properly managed. In addition to the money management and legal expertise, there would be no conflicts of interest, and no longevity concerns.

Probate FAQ

What is the general definition of probate?

Probate in Nevada can be succinctly described as the legal process of estate administration. When certain circumstances exist, the Nevada probate court will provide supervision during the administration process.

Court involvement would only be necessary if there are no estate planning documents, right?

The condition of intestacy exists when someone dies without leaving behind any legally binding asset transfer instructions. In these situations, yes, the probate court would be called upon to sort things out.

A personal representative would be named by the judge to serve as the administrator. This is essentially the same role that would be assumed by an executor. The personal representative would pay final debts and otherwise follow the instructions of the court.

Ultimately, the remaining assets would be distributed to the heirs under the intestate succession laws of the state of Nevada.

However, if there is a will, the executor cannot act independently and distribute the assets without any court involvement. The will must be admitted to probate, and the same level of supervision would be provided by the court.

If I use a will and it is admitted to probate, will my heirs have to wait a long time to receive their inheritances?

That would all depend on your definition of the term “a long time.” In cases that are not complicated in any way, it will usually take about eight or nine months to a year for the court to probate and close an estate. No inheritances can be distributed during this interim, and most people would say that this is a rather lengthy delay.

Does the Nevada probate court handle any other matters that are relevant to the estate planning process?

The answer to this question is yes and no. When you plan your estate, you should address eventualities that you may face toward the end of your life. Many people become unable to make sound decisions at some point in time, and this is an unpleasant reality that you should confront in advance.

When someone is totally unprepared for incapacity, and that moment comes, the Nevada probate court would be petitioned to name a guardian to act on behalf of the incapacitated adult. The decision would be taken out of the hands of the ailing elder, and this is one drawback. Another is the potential for disagreements among loved ones.

To avoid a guardianship, you can include an incapacity plan within your broader estate plan. This would involve the execution of documents that empower people of your choosing to make decisions for you if it ever becomes necessary.

A living will can be added as well. This advance directive is used to record your preferences regarding the use of life-sustaining measures if you are unable to communicate while you are in a terminal condition.

How can you plan your estate to avoid probate?

Before we answer the question, we should add a couple of other reasons why probate avoidance makes sense to many people. In addition to the time factor, significant expenses invariably accumulate during the process. These expenditures reduce the amount of the inheritances that will eventually be received by the heirs.

Another negative is the loss of privacy. Anyone that has an interest can access probate records to find out how the assets were distributed. Most people like to keep their financial affairs confidential, and this information can lead to hard feelings among some interested parties.

To avoid probate in Nevada, you could utilize a revocable living trust as the centerpiece of your estate plan instead of a last will. There are a host of benefits, and one of them is the fact that the trustee can distribute the assets in the trust outside of probate.

You can also account for resources that were in your direct personal possession at the time of your passing for one reason or another through the inclusion of a pour over will. This document would allow the trust to absorb these assets after you are gone.

Asset Protection Planning FAQ

What is an LLC?

The acronym “LLC” stands for a limited liability company. You could establish this type of company as your business entity if you are concerned about asset protection. If you are not, you should be, because it is important to separate your personal property from your business assets.

Instead of filing your taxes as a sole proprietor, you could establish a limited liability company. If you go this route, you would benefit from pass-through taxation that would allow you to claim profits and losses on your personal income tax forms.

Your accounting would continue to be streamlined, but your personal assets would be protected if the business entity was targeted by a litigant seeking redress. Conversely, if you were to be personally sued, property that is owned by the limited liability company would be protected.

Can you move assets into a limited liability company after you know that you are going to be sued?

If you were to do this, it would be looked upon as an illegal fraudulent conveyance, so the answer is no.

Are there any other asset protection structures for small businesses, professional practices, and real estate investors?

Yes, you could choose to utilize a family limited partnership (FLP). As the name would imply, all the partners must be members of the same family. If you establish and fund such a partnership, you would be the general partner, and the family members that you include would be limited partners.

To explain the asset protection value by way of example, let’s say that you own two different apartment buildings, and you rent out the units. Clearly, it is possible that someone could get injured in one of these properties, so you would be exposed to potential personal injury lawsuits.

You could convey each apartment building into a separate family limited partnership. If somebody is injured in one of the buildings and they file a lawsuit, they would be suing the FLP that owns that building. The other rental property would be out of play, along with your personal property and property that is individually owned by each of the other respective partners.

The asset protection works in the reverse direction as well. If you or any of the other partners was to be sued personally, the property that is held by the family limited partnerships would be protected.

Is there a way for an individual to protect assets from future creditors or lawsuit liability?

We practice law in Nevada, and in the Silver State, you can create a self-settled asset protection trust to shield resources. It would be an irrevocable trust, and you would not have direct access to the principal. However, you could be a beneficiary, and the trustee would have the discretion to distribute trust assets to you.

Access Our Asset Protection Reports

We have provided a bit of basic information here, and you can really build on your knowledge if you download our free special reports on asset protection. One report provides more details about family limited partnerships, and the other is devoted to limited liability companies.
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Legacy Wealth Planning FAQ

What is Legacy Wealth Planning?

Legacy Wealth Planning is the creation of a definitive plan for managing your total wealth while you’re alive, distributing your estate how you choose after your death, and a clear plan to pass on your legacy. Your estate includes all assets of any value that you own. This includes non-financial assets as well as financial assets, including real property, business interests, investments, insurance proceeds, retirement accounts and personal property. Your legacy incorporates important decisions ensuring your family core values, responsible behaviors and community involvement are passed on to future generations. Keep in mind, your legacy also includes personal effects, such as family heirlooms, stories, and accumulated wisdom and life lessons of your family.

What is “traditional” estate planning?

Traditional estate planning (Wills and Trusts) focuses on the accumulation, the preservation, and the distribution of only your financial assets and worldly possessions. It protects material wealth from probate and minimizes taxes.

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 is the difference between “traditional” estate planning and Legacy Wealth Planning?

Traditional estate planning is focused on financial assets and is concerned with avoiding probate and estate taxes. On the other hand, Legacy Wealth Planning is concerned with financial and non-financial assets of a family and creating a family’s personal legacy plan. Legacy Wealth Planning addresses how to capture and transfer family traditions and values, as well as protecting financial wealth for current and future generations.

If I don’t create an estate plan, won’t the government provide one for me?

YES. But your family may not like it. The government’s estate plan is called “Intestate Probate” and guarantees government interference in the disposition of your estate. Documents must be filed and approval must be received from a court to pay your bills, pay your spouse an allowance, and account for your property–and it all takes place in the public’s view. If you fail to plan your estate, you lose the opportunity to protect your family from an impersonal, complex governmental process that can become a nightmare. Then there is the matter of the federal government’s death taxes. There is much you can do in planning your estate that will reduce and even eliminate death taxes, but you don’t suppose the government’s estate plan is designed to save your estate from taxes, do you? While some estate planners favor Wills and others prefer a Family Wealth Trust as the Estate Plan of Choice, all estate planners agree that dying without an estate plan should be avoided at all costs.

What is a Family Wealth Trust?

A Family Wealth Trust is the main component of a Legacy Wealth Plan and covers important issues other than avoiding probate.

What’s the difference between having a Will and a Living Trust?

A Will is a legal document that describes how your assets should be distributed in the event of death. The actual distribution, however, is controlled by a legal process called probate, which is Latin for “prove the Will.” Upon your death, the Will becomes a public document available for inspection by all comers. And, once your Will enters the probate process, it’s no longer controlled by your family, but by the court and probate attorneys. Probate can be cumbersome, time-consuming, expensive, and emotionally traumatic during a family’s time of grief and vulnerability. Con artists and others with less-than-pure financial motives have been known to use their knowledge about the contents of a will to prey on survivors. A Living Trust avoids probate because your property is owned by the trust, so technically there’s nothing for the probate courts to administer. Whomever you name as your “successor trustee” gains control of your assets and distributes them exactly according to your instructions. There is one other crucial difference: A Will doesn’t take effect until your death, and is therefore no help to you during lifetime planning, an increasingly important consideration since Americans are now living longer. A Family Wealth Trust can help you preserve and increase your estate while you’re alive, and offers protection should you become mentally disabled.

How does a Family Wealth Trust differ from a Revocable Living Trust?

Most Revocable Living Trusts are primarily concerned with avoiding probate and estate taxes. A Family Wealth Trust offers lifetime benefits, and protects wealth for current and future generations.

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.

Why should I have a Family Wealth Trust?

Not only does a Family Wealth Trust provide for the disposition of your property (like a Will), but it also offers the following benefits:

1. Provides for the immediate transfer or trust management and distribution in the future of assets after death;
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. Protects your children’s inheritance from their own potential divorce;
8. Safeguards your estate for your kids if your surviving spouse remarries;
9.Offers flexibility.

If I set up a Family Wealth Trust, can I be my own trustee?

YES. In fact, most people who create a Family Wealth Trust act as their own trustees. If you are married, you and your spouse can act as co-trustees. And you will have absolute and complete control over all of the assets in your trust. In the event of a mentally disabling condition, your hand-picked successor trustee assumes control over your affairs, not the court’s appointee.

Will a Family Wealth Trust avoid income taxes?

NO. The purpose of creating a Family Wealth Trust is to avoid living probate, death probate, and reduce or even eliminate federal estate taxes. It’s not a vehicle for reducing income taxes. In fact, if you’re the trustee of your Family Wealth Trust, you will file your income tax returns exactly as you filed them before the trust existed. There are no new returns to file and no new liabilities are created.

Can I transfer real estate into a Family Wealth Trust?

YES. In fact, all real estate should be transferred into your Family Wealth 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 Family Wealth Trust, there is no probate anywhere.

Is the Family Wealth Trust some kind of loophole the government will eventually close down?

NO. The Family Wealth Trust has been authorized by the law for centuries. The government really has no interest in making you or your family suffer a probate that will only further clog up the legal system. A Family Wealth Trust avoids probate so that your estate is settled exactly according to your wishes.

How do I know if I have a “bare bones” living trust?

Very few estate planning attorneys offer Legacy Wealth Planning. A “bare bones” living trust covers probate avoidance and usually ignores important issues to protect you, your spouse (if married) and your children. Bring your existing trust to your free one-hour consultation and we can review it for you.

If I have a “bare bones” living trust should I go back to the attorney who drafted the trust?

You can certainly go back to the attorney you worked with before, however, few attorneys offer Legacy Wealth Planning. If you want Legacy Wealth Planning, contact us.

Is a Family Wealth Trust only for the rich?

No. A Family Wealth Trust can help anyone who wants to protect his or her family from unnecessary probate fees, attorney’s fees, court costs and federal estate taxes. In fact, the Family Wealth Trust offers substantial protection for your family, regardless of your total estate. In addition to savings at death, especially if your estate is over $100,000, the Family Wealth Trust also provides savings and peace of mind during life, because it avoids the expense and emotional nightmare of an incapacity or “living probate” proceeding. Also, a Family Wealth Trust protects spouses in the event of remarriage after one spouse dies and affords greater protection for children.

Can any attorney create a Family Wealth Trust?

YES, but you would be better off choosing an attorney whose practice is focused on estate planning. Members of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys receive continuing legal education on the latest changes in any law affecting estate planning, allowing them to provide you with the highest quality estate planning service anywhere.

What steps can I take to preserve my legacy?

The best approach is to meet with an attorney who understands the Legacy Wealth Planning process. This will ensure you address the financial and non-financial assets of your family. The right attorney will help you, first, set up a Family Wealth Trust to preserve your financial legacy. Then, you will be educated about completing the My Legacy workbook, to share in your own words about your life story, family history, memories, and life lessons. And finally, writing a Legacy Planning Letter to distribute your cherished possessions with sentimental value.

Gun Trust FAQ

What is a Gun Trust?

A Gun Trust is a special, purpose-driven revocable living trust designed primarily to: (1) legally expedite the transfer of NFA (“Title II”) firearms to heirs; and (2) to provide specific instructions over disposition of your gun collection

Can I go online to do my Gun Trust?

Sure; but it’s not a good idea. The popular estate plan document-producing website nolo.com recently posted a Q&A topic on Gun Trusts. The site’s advice is as follows:

“If you want to create a gun trust, get personalized legal advice from an expert on gun laws. Nolo living trusts are designed for the people who simply want to pass on their assets while avoiding probate. Gun trusts are complicated because they:

* may need to last for more than one generation
* may have multiple trustees, and
* must address both state and federal weapons laws.”

As an attorney, I also suggest not using an internet site for this important aspect of your estate plan (or any aspect of your estate plan, for that matter)

Can’t I use my current revocable living trust as a Gun Trust?

Again, yes, but also not a good idea. Revocable living trusts are designed to transfer assets such as real estate, bank accounts, and vehicles from one generation to the next. A typical revocable living trust does not address the state and federal laws regarding passing firearms (Title II or others) from one generation to the next. A typical revocable living trust is NOT a gun trust

What are the possible consequences of failing to plan for my guns?

Failure to specifically plan for your gun collection may expose your trustee to serious liability. This may come in the form of federal or state prosecution of an trustee who unknowingly violates federal or state laws by: (1) distributing firearms to a beneficiary who may not legally own them; (2) distributing guns across state lines in violation of state or federal law; (3) transferring NFA (“Title II”) firearms without following federal and state laws. Just as important – beneficiaries may be exposed to prosecution for being on the receiving end of an improper transfer.

That is saying nothing of the personal liability that comes with improper usage of a firearm!
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