We Answer Some Frequently Asked Questions About Estate Planning
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How much does it cost to set up an estate plan?
Most reputable estate planning firms in California can provide a comprehensive estate plan for $3500-$5500 depending on your needs. Our firm offers different levels of planning depending on your needs. Our plans range from $1500 to $12000 depending on the services we are providing. Most families find themselves in the $4000 range.
I have an estate plan already and need to make changes. Can your firm help me even if you did not prepare the plan?
We typically do not make amendments to plans prepared by other attorneys because of liability concerns. However, we can amend and restate your trust in its entirety, so you can keep the name of your trust, but update all the content to become current with recent changes in law, and to reflect your current wishes. We can also provide you a full review of your current estate plan, so you are aware of what changes should be considered.
Will my California estate plan still work if I move out of state?
Many of our clients lived or owned property here, and subsequently have moved out of state. Because technology makes it easy to stay connected, we can usually continue to assist clients even when they move away. You can also hold any U.S. based assets in your California revocable living trust, often eliminating the need to start over when you move away.
Can I change my plan in the future?
Yes, if you have mental capacity, you can make changes to your estate plan during your lifetime, also provided your plan is revocable.
Where should I store my estate planning documents?
We recommend you store your estate planning documents in a secure location that can be easily accessed during an emergency. For this reason, it’s important for you to tell your key decision makers under your estate plan where you keep your documents, how to conveniently access your plan, and how to get in touch with your attorney. We do not recommend you provide copies to your key decision makers in case you change your plan down the road. We also encourage clients to file their Medical Directives with their primary physician and local hospital.
Does the Trustee have to be a U.S. Citizen?
Yes. There are serious federal tax implications from choosing a foreign Trustee.
What are the duties of a Trustee?
The Trustee must ensure that the Trust is administered in a timely fashion and according to the rules. For a complete list of Trustee duties, click here.
I don’t have a trusted family member or friend to serve as my Agent, Executor, or Trustee. What are my options?
Some people choose to nominate a Professional Fiduciary or a Bank or Corporate Trustee to manage their finances if they become incapacitated or pass away. We can help connect you with these professionals once we have a better understanding of your family’s individual needs.
What is the difference between a Durable Power of Attorney Agent, an Executor, and a Trustee?
Your Agent is the person you designate in your Durable Power of Attorney to make financial decisions for you if you are incapacitated. An Executor is the person you designate in your Will to handle any financial or guardianship issues that would be subject to the probate court process. Your Trustee is the person you designate in your revocable living trust to wrap up your affairs upon your death and manage the financial distributions to your designated beneficiaries. Typically, you choose the same person to serve as your agent, Executor, and Trustee.
What happens if I become incapacitated while I am pregnant?
Your medical powers of attorney should address what should happen to you, or your unborn child, if you become permanently incapacitated while pregnant. Many women choose to include an override provision in their Living Will that would allow their designated health care agent to decide whether to keep the incapacitated mother on artificial life support until the child is born, if physicians determine the child will survive and lead a healthy and meaningful life. You should talk with your attorney about what your wishes are, and make sure they are appropriately documented and honored.