Skillfully Answering Your Estate Planning FAQ
Estate planning does not have to be complicated, especially if you have a seasoned attorney guiding you and answering your questions. Founding attorney H. Gregory Walker Jr. has practiced law since 1976. Devoted to his clients, he and his team will help you control and protect your assets. Please take a look at some FAQ about estate planning.
Q: What is a living trust?
A: A living trust is a contract created during your lifetime where you create favorable rules on how to handle your assets both before and after your death. You can manage your assets while alive just like you are doing now. One of the biggest benefits of a living trust is that it allows you and your family to avoid the costly and time-consuming court probate process. Also, a properly drafted living trust can protect your assets from nursing homes while retaining flexibility in how you wish for your assets to be handled both before and after your death.
Q: Can I put my house in a trust?
A: Yes! The biggest reason to put your home in a trust is to avoid your surviving spouse or children from having to go through the expensive and time-consuming court probate process after you die. You can keep your homestead tax exemption when putting your home in trust along with any other favorable tax benefits of home ownership. A specially drafted asset protection trust can protect your home from being sold to pay nursing home costs. Trusts can also be used to protect your home from an ex-spouse in a divorce settlement. Also, you may want to consider placing your home in a trust if you have reservations about a specific family member causing problems after your death or who may quickly spend his or her inheritance.
Q: What is a supplemental needs trust?
A: A supplemental needs trust allows you to provide for disabled children after you have died. A Supplemental Needs trust allows you to leave an unlimited inheritance to help disabled loved ones, without disqualifying them from eligibility to receive government means tested benefits such as food stamps and Medicaid. You can control who gets any remaining funds after your disabled children pass away.
Q: What is a will?
A: A will is a legal document which must be drafted and signed in accordance with strict legal rules enacted by the legislature. It has no effect on your assets until after your death. Even after your death it does nothing until an attorney has been hired by your family to submit your will through the court probate process. Once your will is found to be valid by a judge and if no one files an objection to its terms, a will instructs a judge on who to transfer ownership of your assets to following your death. In addition to the requirement a judge must review your will to determine if it meets strict legislative requirements, the court process requires that your will be recorded in the public records allowing it to be read by the public and a complete inventory of all of you assets along with their value must be recorded in the court proceedings.
Q: What is a power of attorney?
A: A power of attorney is a document where you name your choice of an agent to represent you should you become incapacitated and not able to conduct your business or medical needs. Since you are naming someone to represent you while you are living, a power of attorney terminates at your death. A power of attorney is a very important piece of the estate planning puzzle. Should you become incapacitated and you do not have a power of attorney in place, the government takes over and will require your family to go through an expensive and time-consuming legal process to have a judge appoint an agent for you. In addition to the possibility that the agent named by the court may not be your choice, a court appointed agent will not have the ability to take steps to protect your assets and will not have specific instructions from you to follow on how you want your business to be handles and your wishes concerning medical treatment.
Many attorneys who do not have the same level of experience and expertise as Mr. Walker fail to realize that a power of attorney is a contract and is only as good as the skill and expertise of the attorney drafting the power of attorney. This is definitely a contract where one size does not fit all. Unfortunately, all too often this fact is learned by clients of other attorneys the hard way when it is too late to have a sufficiently drafted document prepared by an experienced attorney. Do not be lulled into a sense of false security with a general language form used by some attorneys or by buying a power of attorney on the internet. Have an effective tool in place by getting your power of attorney from someone with the experience and expertise to make sure it contains the right provisions and will be an effective legal tool when you need it.
Mr. Walker can answer these questions as well as any other ones you may have about estate planning. He and his team remain focused on protecting families and their future.
Get Your Questions Answered Now
For more than 40 years, Walker Law Group, L.L.C. has skillfully represented clients with estate planning needs. You can benefit from Mr. Walker’s legal services and he will answer your questions. He also continues to provide educational seminars on estate planning. Contact us online or call 318-445-4516.