The main reason why people come up with estate plans is for them to ensure that their wishes as to how their estate will be distributed will be followed. This means your favorite niece will inherit your 18th-century heirloom grand piano while your third and current wife Alice will get your real estate property holdings. Well, go tell that to the probate court. When your estate undergoes probate, both Samantha and Alice (and all your other beneficiaries) would have to wait awhile before they get their inheritance. And the wait could take months.
Thus, the second reason for coming up with an estate plan is to avoid probate. Not only are your wishes followed, your beneficiaries do not have to wait that long to get their inheritance. (It can actually be just a few days after you pass away.) A very popular estate planning instrument used to avoid probate is the living trust. In a living trust, you establish a trust and gradually place most of your assets in that trust. Since the trust is not in your name, the assets listed in that trust will immediately go to the beneficiaries named – without having to go through probate. Your designated trustee will take care of the distribution of your assets when you are already in the Great Beyond.
Since you do not want your heirs to go through probate, you then decide on creating a living trust. You can download forms from the Internet and create your own living trust for a very minimal price. But while non-lawyers can create a living trust, it is always best to have a lawyer at your side when you create these legal documents. Surprisingly, the fees are reasonable. On the average, lawyers charge from $1,200 TO $2,000 to help you draft your living trust. The range in fees can be explained by the variance in your personal circumstances (your marital status) and complexity and size of your estate. The fee covers your consultation with your lawyer, especially on the thorny issues of your estate. (Ironing out these issues can be the greatest value your estate planning attorney can give you.)
The fee usually does not include assistance in funding your living trust. However having your living trust as a starting point is good enough for you. With that document you can be assured that your heirs will not go through the harrowing legal process called probate.
A good estate planning attorney can take one to two weeks to finish your living trust document. That’s a good enough time to get started on your estate planning. Knowing that, you may want to get in touch with your estate planning attorney today.