Freeman & St. Clair Issues an Advisory to Those Planning for Estate Distribution

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Freeman & St. Clair emphasizes the importance of those undergoing their estate planning to know the difference between wills and trusts.

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“For the average married couple, to have an attorney prepare a revocable trust costs much less than the expenses that are incurred in most probate proceedings.”

Tucson estate planning law firm, Freeman & St. Clair has issued an advisory to those planning for the future of their estates. There are many people out there who have mistakenly assumed that if they leave a Last Will and Testament behind, their assets will be easily and equitably distributed as they set forth. When a will is all that is left by the estate holder, it is still subject to probate. When a Revocable Living Trust is the instrument to determine distribution of the estate, the probate court is not involved, and it becomes an automatic and seamless transition in the event of the estate holder’s death.

Freeman and St. Clair has issued the following list of reasons one should carefully consider utilizing a revocable trust to organize the distribution of their estate upon their demise:

Maintain the Privacy of Your Estate Distribution: The process of probate takes place in the court system, and requires that all probate documents be filed in the probate court records. These court records are made available to the public, and anyone may read them. Some of the information made public in these records are: your Last Will and Testament, who the appointed beneficiaries are, what the assets to be distributed are, and which beneficiaries are getting which assets and how they will be distributed. A Revocable Living Trust is more like a private contract written between the estate holder (trust maker) and the person or people you appoint to make the distribution (trustee). The only way the courts would become involved is if there was a discrepancy in the documents or if someone challenged the validity of the trust.

Contingency for Mental Disability: Often overlooked, but extremely important, is to have a built-in contingency plan in the event that the estate holder should become mentally unstable. This is possible with a Revocable Living Trust. Factors can all be included such as how, and by whom, the mental incapacity is determined, and how the estate holder should be cared for in that event. It can also specify who should take care of the assets during the interim. This person, by the way, would be titled the Disability Trustee. This keeps the court system from assuming the position of guardian over the estate. This contingency plan is not automatically included in all Living Trusts, so it is important the estate planner specifically request that mental disability be covered.

Keeping the Estate Out of Probate: One of the most pertinent reasons for using the Revocable Living Trust is to avoid the probate courts. Once estate holders learn of this benefit, they are usually convinced that a trust is a better way to go. This method of avoiding probate is easy to understand. When an estate holder’s assets are titled under the name of the trust, then at the time of his or her death there is no question as to whom the assets go. Hence, there needn’t be any intervention by the court system. However, any assets that are not listed in the trust will have to go through probate. Therefore, it is imperative to maintain and update a Revocable Living Trust.

“Some people steer away from getting a revocable trust drawn up because they feel that it will be too expensive,” says Bob St. Clair of Freeman and St. Clair. “They don’t realize that there are a great number of costs that are incurred when an estate goes to probate. For the average married couple, to have an attorney prepare a revocable trust costs much less than the expenses that are incurred in most probate proceedings; even simple ones. Then there is the delay. The average probate takes anywhere from 6-18 months, and during that time your assets are tied up. Transition with a revocable trust is immediate.”

Freeman & St. Clair provides personal legal representation in Tucson, Arizona. With over 35 years of experience, they are known as the small firm for small businesses. The firm provides a full range of legal services: corporate law, litigation, collections, bankruptcies, personal injuries, estate planning, etc.

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