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Common Questions

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Common Questions Regarding Wills and Living Trusts Why should I be concerned about avoiding probate?

Probate is the court-supervised process of administration of a deceased person's estate which results in the payment of debts and distribution of his/her assets. Although costs of probate can vary from state-to-state, such costs usually approximate 5% to 8% of the estate value.
Also, the probate process can be lengthy. An average probate can last from nine months to two years, or longer, depending on the assets of the estate and complexity of the situation.
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Why does a Living Trust avoid probate?

The Living Trust is a separate legal entity that you create and control during your lifetime; and because it is a separate entity, it does not die when you do.
When your assets are transferred into the name of your living trust, they are controlled by you, as trustee, and upon your death by the successor trustee you have selected. Thus, the management and distribution of your trust assets are handled by your trustee as directed by your trust document and there are no assets left to become subject to the jurisdiction of the courts.
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Does a Trust help if I become incapacitated?

As explained in the preceding paragraph, your trust assets are held and controlled by the trustee. If you become incapacitated and are no longer able to manage your affairs as trustee, the person you designate in your trust document to serve as the successor trustee can assume management responsibilities on your trust and handle payment of your bills, investment of your assets, etc. until you are able to again serve as trustee or until your death.
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Who should I choose to be my successor trustee?

Your successor trustee can be an individual such as a friend or relative, or you could select a corporate entity (a bank or trust company) to serve as a trustee. You may also name more that one person to serve as trustee (i.e., "co-trustees") for your trust.
It is advisable to name alternate successor trustees in case your first choice is unable to serve as trustee.
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Do I need a Will in addition to a Living Trust?


Yes. A special type of Will called a "pour-over" Will is used to "back-up" the Living Trust in the event that all of your assets are not transferred into your trust at the time of your death. At your death, the Will "pours over" any assets left out of your trust into your trust to be distributed along with other trust assets.
Remember, however, that these assets may be subject to probate since they are passed by Will so it is important that your trust if fully "funded" with your assets.
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How can I tell if I need a Living Trust?

Generally speaking, if you own real estate, stocks and bonds, bank accounts or other "titled" assets in excess of $100,000, you are probably a good candidate for a living trust.
Since state probate and incapacity laws do vary, it is important that you seek the counsel of a competent estate planning professional to review your situation and advise you as to the best course of action. In most cases, the estate planning process will be less complicated and quicker than you anticipate.
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Can I make my own Will?

We do not recommend this method. It is best to avoid problems and not run the risk of having your wishes challenged in court.
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Any lawyer will do. Right?

You should be represented by a lawyer who specializes in Wills and Trusts, these are called "estate attorneys." We will do our best to refer you to a Christian estate attorney in your area.
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How much will it cost?

Ask for a courtesy consultation and, ask up front what their fees are for their services. Fees vary depending on the size of the estate.
Paul and Jan paid $800 for their Revocable Living Trust. A simple Will could cost between $50 and $250.
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The information provided is not intended as legal advice. Please consult a competent estate planning attorney.