Information on Wills, Living Trusts & Estate Matters

Category: Trusts

What is the function of an estate planning attorney?

Estate Planning Attorney

Estate Planning Attorney

What is an Estate Planning Attorney?

An estate planning attorney is a lawyer who specializes in helping individuals and families plan for the transfer of their assets and wealth after their death. The estate planning attorney’s role is to help clients create a comprehensive plan that addresses their financial, tax, and personal goals. An estate planning attorney should always take into account the specific circumstances and needs of their client. An estate planning attorney typically work with clients to create a range of legal documents specific to the clients needs. The estate planning legal documents typically include wills, living trusts, power of attorney, and health care directives. These legal documents  are designed to protect their clients assets, provide for loved ones, and ensure that the client’s wishes are carried out after their death. In addition to drafting estate planning related legal documents, an estate planning attorneys may also advise clients on tax planning strategies.  An estate planning attorney also helps those who are dealing with the loss of a loved one by assisting with the probate process, and providing representation in court if necessary.

How much does a typical estate planning attorney charge?

The cost of an estate planning attorney can vary significantly. The cost typically depends on a number of factors, including  geographical location, complexity of the legal matter, the attorney’s experience and the scope of work needed. Some estate planning attorneys charge an hourly rate, while others charge a flat fee for their services. In general, estate planning attorneys may charge anywhere from $1,500 for a simple will to upwards of $7,000 or more for a more complex and comprehensive estate plan that includes trusts and other documents.

How to find a capable Estate Planning Attorney?

There are several ways that a person can go about finding a qualified an capable estate planning attorney in their area.  One tried and true method is to ask someone who has dealt with the situation if they had a positive experience. A personal recommendation or referral can be a great way of finding a good trust and estate attorney.  Another good method is a free online service such as which will allow you to search for an estate planning attorney in your area and view testimonials left by their past clients. You can also view what areas the attorney specializes in to make sure that they will be able to assist you with all of your needs.

What is a Beneficiary?

What is a beneficiary?

What does beneficiary mean?

What does Beneficiary mean?

A beneficiary is a person or thing that receives help or an advantage from something. At least that is the definition if you look beneficiary up in the dictionary, and it is a true statement. When it comes to estate planning, the word becomes further defined. In estate planning, a beneficiary is a person (or thing) that receives the benefit of money, property or real property from a trust or estate on behalf of a Testator, Benefactor or Settlor. For example, the beneficiary of a life insurance policy is the person who receives the payment from the insurance company after the death of the insured. Or one of the beneficiaries of the estate received the decedent’s automobile.

How do you designate a Beneficiary?

A beneficiary can actually be designated in several places and that can be problematic. Beneficiaries are most commonly designated in a Will or in a Living Trust, but they can also be designated in a life insurance policy, retirement fund, investment account or bank account. The reason this can be problematic is that the information can become outdated and conflicting. For example, a Testator (the person who makes a will) may designate the Beneficiary of his life insurance policy as his second daughter in his will, but he may have previously designated the beneficiary of that policy as his first son when he took out the policy with his insurance company.  In this situation it will likely be up to the probate court to determine who the true Beneficiary of the insurance policy is.

Can a Beneficiary be removed from a will or a trust?

Yes, a beneficiary can be removed from a will or trust while the Testator is still alive and while the living trust is still revocable. The term “Last Will and Testament” means the final version of a will if multiple version exist or existed. People will commonly make updates to their will as life events occur and they may choose to add or remove beneficiaries.  A living trust is typically a revocable living trust while the person who created it (the Settlor or Trustor) is alive. Revocable means that they are able to make changes to the trust. Often when the creator of the living trust passes, it becomes irrevocable and changes to it can no longer be made. It should be mentioned that each state has their own laws and rules governing the validity of a will, trust or estate. In most situations if it can be proven that a person made changes to their estate planning documents when they were not of sound mind or do to coercion, those changes may not be accepted by a court.

What is a trust?

What is a Trust?

What is a Trust?

A trust is a legal arrangement that allows your assets to be held and managed by a third party. This third party is known as a Trustee. The Trustee is the person or group of people that are responsible for ensuring that your estate is handled in the manner specified in the trust. There are several purposes for a trust, but one of the more common reasons people choose to use a trust is to make sure their assets are distributed how they wish and avoiding the need for Probate. There are many different types of trusts, each serving a specific purpose; here are some of the most common:

  • Living Trust – A living trust is a legal arrangement established by a grantor during their lifetime to protect their assets and direct their distribution after the grantor’s death.
  • Revocable Trust – A revocable trust allows the creator / trustor to make changes to the document or terminate the trust altogether.
  • Irrevocable Trust – An irrevocable trust is a trust where the trustor nor anyone else is allowed to change the document. Often a revocable trust will become irrevocable when an even occurs, such as the passing of the trustor.
  • Special Needs Trust – A Special Needs Trust allows a person with special needs to be awarded their inheritance without impacting their Social Security benefits.
  • Asset Protection Trust – An Asset Protection Trust is a trust that is designed to protect a trustor’s assets from creditor claims.
  • Charitable Trust – A Charitable Trusts is a trust designed to carry out the charitable interests of a trustor.
  • Trust Fund – A Trust Fund is an estate planning tool that holds property or assets for a person or organization. Trust funds can hold a variety of assets including currency, real property, stocks, or a business interest.

A trust is just one way of handling estate planning. In some cases a will or last will and testament may be a better option for you. If you are trying to decide how to provide for the distribution of your assets or care of your children after you die or need legal assistance, you should contact a lawyer for guidance.