Living trusts are often a key part of an estate planning strategy. Living trusts are also a great way of minimizing the hassle and expense associated with probate.
The Phoenix living trust lawyers at Holland Law Group are ready to help you create a living trust that protects your assets so you can avoid probate and ensure your loved ones receive the benefit you worked so hard to provide to them.
What is a living trust?
While a living trust is a legal document, it is different from a Last Will & Testament because a Last Will & Testament is only used after you die. A living trust can prevent the court from controlling your assets if you're incapacitated while still alive. Additionally, a living trust can control all of your assets and avoid probate at death.
Why should you consider a living trust?
You may think that a Last Will & Testament provides ample security for your family. In some cases this is true, but if your net worth is more than $75,000, a living trust offers a number of advantages well worth considering.
First and foremost, a Last Will & Testament does not avoid probate when you die. In fact, the probate court must validate your Last Will & Testament before it can be administered.
If you are incapacitated, a Last Will & Testament offers no protection because it can only be enforced after your death. This means that the court could take control of your assets while you're incapacitated and put them into the hands of a court-appointed guardian or conservator.
Living trusts offer a way to avoid this scenario because it allows you to maintain control of your assets, even if you're incapacitated. Additionally, you direct what happens to your assets after you die, while avoiding probate.
Our Phoenix probate lawyer explains probate
Probate is the process of distributing your assets according to the terms of your Last Will & Testament. The probate court handles this process and if you do not have a Last Will & Testament, all of your assets are distributed according to Arizona laws of intestacy – default laws for administering your estate.
You may be wondering why persons with assets valued over $75,000 should avoid probate. Pay close attention while our Phoenix probate attorney explains the drawbacks associated with probate.
It can cost a lot of money. You worked hard throughout your life to provide for your loved ones, so it makes sense to preserve your assets on their behalf in whatever way possible. Before assets can be doled out to your heirs, certain fees, claims, and expenses must be paid. These include legal fees, executor fees, court fees, and other associated costs.
If you own assets in multiple states, multiple probates with entirely different sets of laws could determine how your assets are distributed, each with its own legal costs. Your Phoenix probate lawyer can help you better understand what these costs will be so you can plan accordingly.
Probates take a lot of time. When you die, your assets will likely not be distributed to any of your loved ones until the probate process is complete. Meanwhile, your family may need money to pay bills and survive. While some families can ask the court for a living allowance, the court may deny the request.
When you consider that the probate process can take up to two years or longer, it makes sense to explore options that get your assets into the hands of your loved ones as soon as possible.
Privacy is at a minimum. During the probate process, your assets are frozen so an inventory can be taken. At any time, anyone with interest in your assets can obtain details that include who gets your assets and to whom you're indebted. This is like an open invitation to unscrupulous heirs who may seek to circumvent your wishes as laid out in your Last Will & Testament. Scammers may also target your family members in an attempt to take advantage of their grieving state.
With a Phoenix living trust, your privacy is greatly enhanced.
Your family doesn't have any control. When you die, you hope that your family is empowered with the gifts you bestow upon them. However, probate puts the control in the process instead of your family. Your family has no control over costs, public information, or the length of time it takes to resolve the probate process.
Our Phoenix living trust attorneys will show you ways to empower your family so that your wishes are realized in full.
How a Phoenix living trust avoids probate and court control of assets
A living trust allows you to transfer assets directly from your name to the name of your trust during your life. You control the trust even though you technically no longer own the assets. Upon your incapacity or death, someone you have previously selected to take over the administration of the living trust as a successor trustee will seamlessly assume control of your living trust, without the need for court involvement or oversight. Once the living trust owns your assets, the court cannot take control of your assets if you're incapacitated or you die. With the courts entirely out of the picture, you save your family from the hassle and expense of dealing with the probate process.
Some worry about transferring their assets out of their name and into a living trust. You may be concerned about losing control of your assets if you're incapacitated but this is not the case. You act as the trustee of your trust and make all decisions on behalf of your trust. You also retain the ability to revoke, amend, or modify the living trust, so the change is almost unnoticeable.
Moving assets into your trust is also a simple process. Your Phoenix living trust lawyer can help, as can a trust officer, insurance agent, and financial advisor. Just about anything can be added to the trust, including real estate, bank accounts, investments, art, clothing, jewelry, heirlooms, etc.
Other advantages of a living trust
Now that we've explored how a Phoenix living trust can prevent your family from dealing with probate costs and headaches, let's take a look at the other advantages associated with this option.
One of the most powerful attributes of a living trust is the control it offers over how your assets are distributed following your death. When you die, a successor trustee takes over the administration of your living trust but they are required to manage the trust according to your directions. Your beneficiaries' creditors have no access to the assets in your trust, which protects your family's inheritance. There are also a number of tax advantages to this arrangement, which your Phoenix living trust attorney will be happy to convey.
Rather than having the court establish a costly conservatorship (guardianship) with a restricted account which gives a child a lump sum payment to your beneficiaries at age 18, a living trust enables you to delay or spread out distributions so funds will be paid to your beneficiaries after they have matured and become more financially responsible. You could add incentives like requiring that your heir graduate from college or engaging in humanitarian efforts before receiving the payment. You can also make funds available for schooling, marriage or the purchase of a vehicle or home. Our living trust attorneys would be happy to walk you through the several options available to you when creating your living trust.
Spousal trusts are yet another option available to you. This option allows you to provide for your spouse after your death while assuring that the remainder of your assets are distributed to other beneficiaries according to your instructions. There may also be several tax benefits from establishing a spousal trust in Phoenix so be sure to talk about this option with your Phoenix living trust lawyer.
Holland Law Group handles complex Phoenix living trust disputes
While almost any attorney can handle a simple probate, the Phoenix living trust lawyers at Holland Law Group handle the most complex disputes and litigation cases. In fact, because of our proven ability to aggressively and effectively represent our clients, we often have other attorneys come to us for assistance with difficult cases.
Our legal team can handle situations where litigation is necessary when family members cannot agree over how assets should be distributed, or fiduciaries and beneficiaries disagree about the intent and interpretation of the living trust or Last Will and Testament. We also assist family members concerned about assets disappearing without explanation or accounting.
Most importantly, we can help you to ensure that your wishes are carried out. Whether by creating a customized living trust according to your specifications, no matter how specific they may be, or by utilizing the courts to ensure compliance with your testamentary documents, our attorneys have the experience and expertise necessary to assist you. We advise and handle complex valuation issues like determining how much a business is worth as well as complex accounting and taxation issues. Regardless of your particular situation, if it involves a will or a trust, our attorneys can help.
If you have questions, contact one of our Phoenix living trust lawyers without delay.
A living will is not the same as a living trust, although sometimes people get the two terms confused. Our Phoenix living will lawyers will help you better understand living wills and how they can benefit you and your family. What follows is a brief overview of living wills.
Our Phoenix living will attorneys will ensure your wishes are followed
What is a living will? A living will is not a Last Will and Testament. A Phoenix living will is a document that outlines your wishes regarding medical treatment if you are rendered incapacitated. A living will is also called a healthcare directive. In a living will you have the opportunity to make the “difficult decisions” that we often hear people fighting about (i.e. whether to keep a loved one on life support or just “pull the plug”). Rather than placing the burden of these decisions on your loved ones when they are stressed and concerned about your well-being, a living will enable you to make the decisions before the need for any such decision ever arises.
To create a living will, it's first necessary to speak with one of our Phoenix living will lawyers. We will review all of your medical care preferences and then record your wishes under various scenarios. Your Phoenix living will empowers a person appointed by you to enforce your instructions if you are incapacitated.
The process of creating a living will isn't complicated but it's a service that often goes hand-in-hand with a living trust.
Examples of Phoenix living will scenarios
It may be easier to understand how a Phoenix living will works by describing some examples.
Let's imagine that you are in an irreversible coma, a persistent vegetative state, or suffering from an incurable debilitating disease. Whether due to an unexpected accident or lengthy deterioration, you reach the point where you are no longer able to express your wishes regarding your health care. When a decision needs to be made regarding your care, your healthcare providers must follow your wishes stated in your Phoenix living will.
On the other hand, if you're suffering from a terminal illness, or become incapacitated and require the use of a ventilator to save your life, you will not have any say in the decision without a Phoenix living will.
Not only can a Phoenix living will address issues regarding life-saving medical procedures (that you may or may not want), they also allow you to address issues involving organ donation and palliative care. Best of all, you make these choices while you are healthy and in full capacity of your mental faculties.
If you have questions about living wills or living trusts, contact one of the legal professionals at Holland Law Group today.