Understanding Living Trusts

How can a living trust save on estate taxes?

The Federal government recently passed new tax regulations regarding estate/death taxes to be paid by our estate/heirs when we pass away.  The government increased the Unified Tax Credit available to each estate (which is the amount of assets we can pass on to our heirs upon our death with no estate tax consequences). This amount is now $10 million dollars per person and $20 million dollars per couple. Therefore, very few people need to worry about estate/death taxes to be paid by their estate and or heirs when they die.

Doesn’t a trust in a will do the same thing?

No. A will must go through probate, which is a stressful, costly and time-consuming process for your remaining family members and loved ones. See Mark’s story about the painful and confusing time he experienced with his father’s death. His message is a strong one, and he believes the most important message you can follow through with is, “Don’t do to your loved ones what my father did to me.” For a better comparison and clear analysis of the benefits of a Trust over a will, see Comparisons of Will/Probate versus Trust Planning. These charts highlight the consequences of a disability and/or death situation with a will versus a trust program with teamwork in place.

Is a living trust expensive?

Not when compared to the costs and loss of control that come with court interference at incapacity and death. How much you pay will depend on how complicated your plan is. Be sure to ask for an estimate in advance.

We at ALTA Estate Planning Services have written and copyrighted our own versions of trusts. This provides you with three (3) huge benefits:

  1. The costs are lower because we do not have to pay a license fee for the use of another proprietary’s work. This cost savings is passed along to you.
  1. You will receive a state-of-the-art trust, well organized and in plain English, with all the current tax laws and benefits added for your benefit.
  1. The trust you will receive will be tailor-made for your specific family needs and desires, based upon your financial status and family history. You will get a document that you and most important, your surviving spouse and children will be able to understand and work. And remember, we are just a telephone call away with our Emergency Hotline Program, at no cost atall to you or your loved ones when the time comes for our surviving spouse and/or children to take over the family affairs and financial matters.

How long does it take to get a living trust?

It should only take a few weeks to prepare the legal documents after you make the basic decisions.

Should I have an attorney prepare my trust?

Not necessarily, and with ALTA Estate Planning Services, you receive the benefits of Mark’s experience and knowledge of the law, as well as his financial planning services. Someone with considerable experience in living trusts can provide valuable guidance and peace of mind that your trust is prepared properly. Also, it is important to interview your prospective trust preparer since he/she will be a part of the team for your surviving spouse and/or children if, and when, something should happen to you. We cannot stress enough the importance and value of knowing we will respond pursuant to the Emergency Hotline Program and be at your family members’ side through any ordeal, should the need arise. You cannot put a price on this comfort and Peace of Mind we offer to our clients AT NO ADDITIONAL CHARGE. The reasons we are willing to do this is because:

  1. We realize just how important this process and our presence means to the remaining family members in a time of crisis; and
  1. It is Mark’s way of healing from the insanity, chaos and pain he experienced when his father died, leaving no support to guide him through the three (3) years of probate. That single event dramatically affected Mark’s life, and he will never fully recover, but it is healing to know that there is a purpose for the horror he experienced following his father’s death; that being able to help other families not experience the pain and additional suffering he experienced because of poor estate planning.

You have a chance to take this very important step in your life to protect your remaining family members from the horror of probate. See Comparisons of Will/Probate versus Trust Planning.

If I have a living trust, do I still need a will?

Yes, a pour-over will act as a kind of “safety net,” in the event you forget to retitle an asset in the name of your trust. Upon your death, the will “catches” the forgotten asset and sends it into your trust. The asset may still have to go through probate first, but at least it can then be distributed as part of your living trust plan.

Is a “living will” the same as a living trust?
No. A living trust is for the management and distribution of your financial affairs. A living will be for medical affairs. It lets others know how you feel about life support in terminal situations.

Please do not hesitate to contact us at (520) 797-1400 for a free consultation regarding these matters.