I have a will. Will my family avoid the cost and stress of having to go through probate when I pass?
Most likely not. A will is actually used when assets have to be probated at your passing. So, a will does not allow your family to bypass the cost and hassle of probate.
I have a living trust. Will my family bypass the probate process when I pass?
Very likely yes. A living trust is the main way to avoid probate when you pass. However, it’s also important to remember you need to have your assets titled in the name of the trust or name your trust as beneficiary on assets such as IRA’s, life insurance, annuities.
How often should my living trust and other estate planning documents be reviewed by an attorney?
Every five years is a good rule of thumb. Changes to a living trust or other estate planning documents are not required to be made after a certain time period. Instead, changes in your life (both to you financially and to your family) are the most common reasons to have to update an estate plan. Having these documents reviewed every five years will allow you to stay ahead of these changes.
My spouse and I have two trusts. Is that still necessary?
If you did this to avoid estate taxes at your passing, it’s likely you do not need these trusts any longer. You can now simplify your planning to just one joint trust. Estate tax laws have changed significantly over the last 15 years.
On the other hand, if you have two trusts because you have a blended family and you did this to assure that your assets go to your children, separate trusts are likely still necessary to carry out your intentions. Reviewing these documents with an attorney will help you determine whether this is still necessary.