If you do not have a plan to distribute your estate, don't worry, your state will do it for you. If you would prefer to have a say in how your estate is passed on to your heirs, then you must prepare the appropriate legal documents to accomplish that.
Preparing a will, trust and durable power of attorney is not for your benefit. It is for the benefit of your family and heirs. The wills and revocable living trust we include in our estate package are not designed to avoid estate taxes or income taxes. They are meant to avoid probate and allow you the say how, why and who will benefit from your estate.
If you die without having a will or if you own real property (like your home) and it is not held in a trust, then your heirs must file a probate action into the courts. This generally requires the services of an attorney and costs can start in the $1,000's of dollars depending on your estate. In addition to the cost it can take months and if contested years, to complete a probate action in the courts. Our documents are prepared state specific for your use.
Is the option of preparing your own will, trust and related documents for everyone? The answer is no. Large or complex estates may require the services of an attorney. For the average person a good quality set of documents and forms, such as LexPro's, are more than adequate. The value of an estate before your must begin paying estate taxes in 2018 is $11,180,000 per person. If your estate is greater than this amount you may want to seek the advice of an attorney or tax professional before proceeding.
We have created our estate package of forms to include all of the forms generally needed for a complete estate plan. This includes:
What is an Advanced Medical Directive? In the event a person becomes unable to make medical decisions for them selves, an advanced health care directive either designates and authorizes an agent to make medical decisions on behalf of the incapacitated person or provides guidance to medical providers the person's wishes regarding health care, treatment and organ donation.
What is a Last Will and Testament? A person can dictate how they want their estate to be distributed. This will include the names and relationship of the heirs and their distributive share of the estate. It can include a provision to take care of pets and specific instructions for individual items. You can name a guardian or conservator for minor children and instructions for managing their share of your estate. Generally any items not specifically treated in the body of the will, is poured-over into the related trust to be dealt with there. Hence the name pour-over will. While there are joint wills, we believe it is important that each individual should have their own will.
What is a Durable Power of Attorney? If a person becomes incapacitated a power of attorney grants an agent the power to manage a person's assets for the benefit of the incapacitated person. Assets that have been transferred to a trust can be managed by the person's successor trustee but any assets not transferred to the trust will be subject to the supervision of a court appointed conservator. The power of attorney can grant an agent the power to transfer assets to the trust.
What is a Revocable Living Trust? A revocable living trust is referred to as a Grantor Trust in the Internal Revenue Code. This means the trust is not required to file a tax return. Any income earned in the trust is recognized and filed in the Trustor's personal tax return (the person creating the trust). The person who creates the trust normally names themselves as the Trustee (manages the trust). This means you do not have third parties managing your trust, although that is a possibility if desired. If a person becomes incapacitated or no longer desires to manage the trust, the Successor Trustee manages the trust for the benefit of the Trustor. Once the Trustor dies the Successor Trustee liquidates or manages the trust under the terms and directions specified in the trust document. The trust is not normally required to be recorded or made public knowledge.
Once created a trust must be funded. This is done by transferring assets into the trust name. These assets can be anything the person owns but in order to avoid probate must contain any real estate the person owns. Assets can be added or removed from a trust at any time without the need to amend the trust. These trusts are generally prepared as a joint document including both a husband and wife if married.
What is a Warranty Deed? A Warranty Deed is the instrument or document that shows ownership in a piece of real property such as your home. Everyone who owns a parcel of real property will have a deed to that property. A warranty deed is used to transfer a parcel of real property into a trust. The deed is not titled in the name of the trust but rather in the name of the Trustee for the trust.
Many people believe their deed is to their house. This is not true. The house itself has no deed of ownership, only the land it is built on. A Quit Claim Deed or a Warranty Deed may be used to transfer title to the trust. If a person is unable to locate their deed, a copy can be obtained from their county recorder. Once the deed is prepared transferring title to the trust it must be recorded with the county recorder where the property is located.
We invite you to look at the competition such as Legal Zoom and Legal Forms Made Easy. We believe after comparing LexPro to the others you will believe, as we do, that we have the best quality product and the best instructions all at a reasonable price. We are the only company that not only includes all of the generally required forms in one easy to use package, we do our best to inform you what you need and why. We do not have any hidden fees, or fees that are charged to your account each month.
When you use our forms you are looking at and working on the actual form as it will be saved and printed. You are filling in the appropriate blanks as you go. There is a help key at every blank to provide direction and explanation.
Our goal is to provide all the necessary forms in one easy location and make the process of completion as easy as possible. You can take up to 30 days to complete and print your forms eliminating the need to try and rush through the process. We do not keep copies of your estate documents. We will not sell your name to mailing lists so you will never be harassed by third parties by using our site.
Our documents and similar documents provided by other companies are not meant or designed to avoid estate or income taxes. The trusts needed for this are specialized for that purpose and should be used in conjunction with a legal or tax professional.
We continually monitor the legislature of each state for changes in the state probate codes. This allows us to keep our forms up to date and current with the laws of each state. There are always online providers of legal forms, including estate forms that advertise using scare tactics and misinformation. We certainly don't believe in this approach. On the other hand there are those who say using do it yourself forms is mistake. We agree this is sometimes true. Many online providers use forms that are not current with the various state statutes or of poor quality. However, for the average person, a good set of complete, quality forms are usually adequate. We have used our forms to create the estate documents for ourselves, families and friends, and have done so with complete confidence. We do not try and provide every form ever created or try to be all things to all people. We simply try to be the very best we can in the services we provide.
We are committed to conducting our business in accordance with these principles in order to ensure that the confidentiality of personal information is protected and maintained.
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