1. “I’m not rich. I don’t have an estate.”
An “Estate” is all the money and property you own at your death. This includes your bank accounts, car, home, rental property, clothing, furniture, jewelry, art, stocks, CDs, business interests, and even intangible property such as licenses, rights, digital accounts, etc. In California, if your “estate” has a gross value of $150,000 or more on the date of death, then your “estate” will go through the probate court process. Having a Trust can help your estate avoid probate, and ease the burden on those left behind. There may be some assets that do not count toward your “estate”; however, so call us to find out more.
2. “I’m well below the $5.49 million Federal tax exemption so I won’t need to pay ‘death taxes.’”
Trusts are so much more than just a way to save taxes. Trusts avoid the probate Court process, appoint the person(s) you want to manage your trust, protect your children from a prior marriage, name a guardian for your minor children, direct distributions, prevent fights over distribution, and save on taxes other than just Federal “death taxes.” Call us to see if a Trust is right for your particular situation.
3. “Everything is in joint tenancy so my heirs won’t need to go to court.”
While you might avoid the court process if one of the two joint tenants die, you are taking a big risk should both joint tenants die. If all joint tenants die, then likely the property will be probated in court. Also, if a joint tenant dies, the deceased’s interest goes to the surviving joint tenant instead of the deceased’s heirs (which many people don’t realize). In addition, you may be missing out on some important tax benefits by holding property in joint tenancy.
4. “I don’t have a spouse or kids, so I don’t need a Trust.”
Estate planning for a single person is especially important because without a trust, his or her estate will more than likely be probated with a significant amount of money taken out for attorney fees and administration fees. Furthermore, the state will decide for you regarding who will manage your assets and who will receive those assets according to a standard set by law. With a Trust, you can decide who will manage your assets, who will receive your assets, how much, and when. Call us for a free initial consultation to see how a Trust can help you reach your financial goals.
5. “I’m just going to write my own Will.”
Having a Will alone doesn’t keep your estate out of the long and expensive probate court process. Also, a Trust and a Will have certain formalities when signing, to be a valid. Do-it-yourself or fill-in-the blank Will forms do not consider your circumstances and goals in preparing the terms. Seek an attorney’s advice to make sure your written estate plan is in line with what you have in mind. Do you really want to trust your legal outcome to a form you found online? Call our office for a free initial consultation today.