No one likes thinking about death, especially their own.
The sorrow, heartaches, emotional strain and financial loss of not having a simple will or trust is devastating to family members picking up the pieces after a loved one’s death.
Dying without a will or trust can force a possible court battle pitting relatives against each other.Dying without a will or trust can force your assets and estate into a possible court battle pitting relatives against each other. Some probate cases go on for years.
I have heard dozens of reasons why people hesitate to protect themselves, their loved ones and, more importantly, their wishes after they die.
Would you rather have a root canal or make an appointment to prepare a will or trust? Most would opt for the root canal.
Where to start: A will or a trust?
The biggest obstacle for many people is a legitimate one: Where do I start? That’s easy.
Start by making a decision of choosing either a will or trust.
I am not a big fan of wills, as sometimes they create more problems than the solve. Wills go into “probate” generally in the county where the person lives. County officials have attorneys that work the probate matter and take 10-20% of the assets as a fee.
Spend a few dollars more and obtain a trust where there is no probate and your specific directions and wishes can be carried out as you directed, not some attorney whom you never even met. Additionally, those attorneys may make professional and monetary decisions completely opposite from what you wanted because you never took the time to document your specific wishes.
Hiring a trust attorney
When hiring a trust attorney, get one with litigation experience. This is important as they have actually completed trial work in such matters. They know many of the loopholes to be avoided along with the correct terminology to protect your interest after you die.
Interview a minimum of three attorneys. Surely their qualifications are important, but make sure that are a good fit for you. Are they listening to what you want, or are they just putting your wishes into a preformed box they have done hundreds of times before?
Ask 3 questions
Once you have selected the attorney who is best for you, ask that person three questions.
First, what is the estate plan and why should be make it revocable?
Second, how long will the process take?
Third, what will be the cost?
Define your goals
Some of the questions you will be asked are common while others are relative to your age. Be ready to define your goals. Who will take care of your children? Who will manage their money? Who will be your executor and who will have power of attorney? What will be your health care directives? Who will be the voices of your choices when you no longer here?
You don’t have to have a high IQ to understand that you will die one day. It does though take maturity and preplanning to develop a plan while you have a clear mind.
Candidly, there may be family members who can’t wait for you to die so they can inherit the fruits of your labor. Maybe you don’t want them benefiting and the only way to full protect your wishes is a trust.
You may even include family members who are not deserving since you are a better person and have a bigger heart. Protect yourself and those who you want to bless. Put a clause in your trust that if any beneficiary you name contest any part of your distributions, they are immediately dismissed from all benefits. Let that be known while you are still on the planet and you can be assured your incorrigible relatives will act properly after your funeral.