Estate Plan Preparation
Should you decide to engage Attorney Cooper’s services to create an estate plan, please contact her. An appointment will be set for the fact gathering interview (a process that takes from one to two hours and should move smoothly if you have pondered the “Issues to Consider for Estate Planning” and gathered the documents listed on the “Living Trust Document Checklist” below). Within the week or so following the initial appointment, you will be sent a draft of the most important portions of the estate plan for review. After the documents are finalized, an appointment for the final execution of the documents will be scheduled. The entire process should take approximately two weeks and meetings may be held in the comfort and privacy of your home or office if you like. A payment of one-half of the fee is required at the initial appointment; the balance is due at the final appointment. Credit card payments are accepted.
Issues to Consider for Estate Planning
- If you are disabled, or if you should pass away, who would you like to handle your financial transactions for you? If that person is unwilling or unable to act, who would your alternate choice be?
- The person(s) handling your property should have a thorough knowledge of
your financial and family affairs, have good business sense and follow through,
and be sensitive to your wishes
- Should you be unable to make or communicate decisions regarding your health or personal care due to disability or injury, who would you like to make your health and personal care decisions for you?
- What source of funds can be used to payoff your debts upon your death (mortgages, credit cards, utilities, expenses of last illness, funeral/burial expenses, income and/or death taxes, probate/administration costs)?
- Who would you like to receive your remaining assets upon your death?
- Would the property be an outright gift or with strings attached? (e.g.,
considerations of age, maturity, disabilities, drug use, marital status, etc.)
- Would you want the recipient to have the property for only a designated period
of time and then to someone else upon his/her death?
- Do you want to make gifts of specific items of property?
- If you were to liquidate (cash in) all of your assets, what percentage of the cash would you like to go to each beneficiary?
- Do you want your real estate sold and the proceeds divided or do you want some other arrangement? (e.g. one or more beneficiaries would have the right to live in the property; property rented and income paid to beneficiaries, etc.)
- Who are your alternate beneficiaries? (those who would receive your assets if your designated beneficiaries predecease you)
- Who would you like to nominate as the guardian for your minor children, if any?
- Under what conditions do you want your life prolonged should you have an incurable or irreversible physical or mental condition? What if you were in a persistent vegetative state or some other form of permanent unconciousness?
- Do you wish to donate your organs?
- Do you wish to be cremated?
- What type of funeral/memorial service do you want (if any)?
- Where would like your remains buried?
Additional Considerations for Married Couples:
- What provisions would you like to make for your spouse in case of your death?
- Do you have the same beneficiaries and the same plan of distribution?
- Do either of your have separate property (property acquired before marriage or
during marriage by gift or inheritance)? If so:
- How is separate property to be managed during the marriage?
- What happens to the separate property on the death of the spouse owning the separate property?
- Do you wish to convert the separate property to community property?
Living Trust Document Checklist
1. __ Existing estate planning documents, including pre-nuptial agreements
2. __ Death certificate for deceased spouse (if any)
Note: Although creating a trust provide you with an orderly disposition of your estate, the trust can only operate on those assets that you transfer to the trust either by changing the legal title or beneficiary designation of the asset. This procedure is called funding the trust. In order to make funding decisions, the following documents should be reviewed.
3. __ Grant Deeds and latest tax bill for each piece of real estate
4. __ Latest statements for all bank accounts, CD’s, IRA/Keogh/401K accounts and brokerage accounts
5. __ Copies of all promissory notes or contracts regarding investments or loans you have made to others (business or personal loans)