Having done over 200 estate plans per year, we realize that a lot of clients share similar concerns and have similar questions. We also realize that a lot of clients share some common misconceptions. Below is a quick summary of some frequently asked questions, along with some frequently provided answers.
Are assets in my revocable living trust protected from MY creditors?
No. If you can amend and revoke the trust, you're not getting any creditor protection from it. If creditor protection is important to you, then you need to consider some other measures.
Do assets that pass outside of probate avoid estate tax?
Probably not. Avoiding probate and avoiding estate tax are two fundamentally different concepts. Assets that pass through beneficiary designations and assets titled in a trust generally will be subject to estate tax, even though the probate court doesn't bollix up the transfer process.
When I die, will the government get everything?
Only if you name the government as the beneficiary of your Will or trust, which we generally don't encourage. Without getting into the nuances, we'll simply say that the federal estate tax only applies to individuals at around $5.5 million or more, and married couples at around $11 million or more. If you're over that level, then there's a 40% tax on the excess. If you're under that level, there's generally nothing to worry about.
Is LegalZoom cheap?
Nope. If you want do-it-yourself documents, do some due diligence and check out your local library. You'll save yourself a couple hundred bucks. If you want real attorney help, call a real attorney.
How much does an estate plan cost?
It depends, but we like to offer our services on a flat fee, and the fee typically ranges from $400 to $1,200, even if a trust is involved. We can get you a flat fee quote before we start on the project. If you choose not to retain us, we'll be bummed out, but we won't bill you.
Another attorney quoted me more. Why are you lower?
We've spend a lot of time and money making our process efficient, and we do a lot of this work. This experience and efficiency allow us to do the legal work quickly, which means we can keep client costs down.
Another attorney quoted me less. Why are you higher?
We're not sure. We know what the legal market says our time is worth, and we know where we can be more efficient, while also knowing where we can't cut corners. We know how much time we need to devote to learning about a client's situation to make sure we're not missing important details, and we always make sure we give clients plenty of time to ask questions, seek clarification, and make changes.
How long will it take you to send me drafts?
Typically, after we have our initial meeting or receive a completed questionnaire, drafts will go out in 1-2 business days.
Did Prince die without a Will?
Yes. He died "intestate," which means to die without a Will. He should have had one, and he should have had a trust, as well. But I don't think his problems started and ended with his lack of an estate plan.
What other famous people died without a Will?
According to LegalZoom, which might not be very good when it comes to giving you cost-effective estate planning documents, but apparently keeps track of celebrity estate planning trivialities, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, Sonny Bono, Stieg Larsson (who wrote The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Picasso, Steve McNair, and, perhaps most surprisingly, Abraham Lincoln all died without a Will.