Jon Alban here today to talk to you about Estate planning. As I told you , I will focus on what to do after you sign your Estate Plan. So, Estate Planning is a process. I start by meeting with you and you tell me what you would like to plan for your Estate. We do all of the documents for you which include your will, your revocable living trust, powers of attorney, health care directive, then you sign those documents.
Some people sign those documents and just think they’re done. I want to go over the three things that I tell all of my clients as instructions after you sign. The letters of the acronym are T, L, and A. T is for title, L is for location and A is for access. These are the three key things to focus on. For those of you who have just signed your trust and then just buried it somewhere, that is not the right thing to do.
First thing, “Title”: After you sign your trust, Your estate planning attorney should tell you what assets need to be titled in the trust. Not all of your assets should be titled in your trust. Specifically, you should figure out which assets should be titled. Your attorney should go over that. Then, there are different ways to transfer items to your trust. After you’ve signed your trust, if you own real property you can also sign a grant deed, which gets recorded. So, that’s one thing you do after you sign your trust. Most of us have a bank account. Then, you have to transfer the bank accounts that you want in your trust. You can open a trust account in the bank. The other assets people have would be personal property.
This is not always something you want to transfer the title on. Many people have business interests. Many people in this room. Again, that is something you’ll have to transfer to your trust if you want to govern that there. That’s where you’d see a business attorney or your business partners agree that that is in your trust. Certain assets, like retirement assets, do not get transferred to your trust. Thos are assets that are yours for retirement. They are already in a trust to be used in your retirement. So, you wouldn’t transfer those to your trust.
The next letter, “L” is the location of your documents as well as the location of your assets. After you’ve signed your trust you need to make sure someone can locate your documents when you’re not here. That’s when you notify your successor trustees, you’ve signed your documents, you’re going to locate them somewhere safe. These are documents that you need the originals; an original will and an original trust. After you’re not here, those are the documents that are going to govern. We recommend you put them in your safe deposit box.
This is the place where most people look for your things when you are no longer here. Especially your documents and your valuable assets. So make sure people know the location of your documents. Also, makes sure people know the location of your assets. Make sure someone knows the location.
The last letter is “A” for access. Make sure that the people you chose to tell the location also has the ability to access your safe deposit box or your documents or whatever assets might be needed at that important time. Again I wanted to focus on those three letter “T”, “L’, and “A.” I focus on that after you’ve signed your documents. It’s very important to have that advice.
If you’ve done that give yourself a pat on that back. We’re not done yet, however. Like most things, maintenance is key here. How often is up to you. Everybody is going to have a different maintenance plan on their documents. What’s most important is that, annually, you see the key people that you have to. One would be a tax attorney. You need to keep your taxes up to date as well as be aware of any changes in tax law that may affect your estate. Another thing is you’ll need to review your assets.; see where they are. If they’re going up that’s great but we may need to do some estate tax planning. Insurance is also important, your Medicare or your health insurance. That’s something you should check out annually to make sure it’s okay.
These people are significant to have in case something significant happens in your life that you may or may not be sure affects your estate. So, occasionally, you’ll have to make an appointment with me. A good time to do it would be when you have family changes such as a marriage, a divorce, a new baby, a new grand-baby, a death of a loved one. Also, if you’re moving out of state considering every state has their own probate laws.
If you sell property, the title and location are moving. You should tell somebody about that. You should also make an appointment with me to make those changes. And of course my finale, it’s your finale as well, your funeral plans. Make sure you make those plans in advance. Make sure you know what you want. Your wishes, funeral and burial arrangements are something that I can arrange into your plan. You should also talk to your health agent about that.
And now if there are any general questions I’d be happy to answer them. If you do have specific questions please call me to schedule an appointment.
There are two documents that can be durable power of attorneys. One is a Durable Power of Attorney for Assets. The word “durable” means that it is going to continue after you are incapable of making decisions for yourself. So when you sign a power of attorney, you are normally giving power to someone to sign your name of make decisions for you. Durable also means that they can continue to do that if you are incapacitated, you’ve lost your faculties or your ability to write. Now, a durable power of attorney for healthcare; you still need two. There are two separate agents and the healthcare is now called and Advance Healthcare directive. This is the one that gives power over the funeral, decisions with your body, both when you are hospitalized and when you are no longer here. That is an important document to have. Taking care of your assets and taking care of your body are two important aspects.
I know that you are talking about revocable trusts that people can make changes in, are there any circumstances in which someone might want an irrevocable trust?
I did talk today about a revocable living trust, which is the most common document because it can serve as a will for you in addition to your will to help avoid probate. The irrevocable trusts are mostly with people that have assets who are going to be added to estate tax level. Those are other decisions we can help you with when your estate is at that level. Thank you.