Estate Planning

Estate Planning

Estate Planning Attorney serving Peoria, Glendale and Greater West Valley Phoenix, Arizona.

Peoria Estate Planning Lawyer, Chhayal Patel-New, is dedicated to serving her clients with guidance, compassion and respect. As a first generation attorney and working mom, she understands the importance of preserving the fruits of ones labor for those we love.

Estate Planning attorney Chhayal Patel-New is committed to serving the community she lives, works and raises her children in. Her goal is to reach out personally to local families of Peoria, Glendale and the West Valley for their estate planning needs. Attorney Patel hopes that through education and offering affordable legal advice, that she can convey the importance and benefits of having a well crafted estate plan. She has an individualized approach to client representation and focuses on customizing an estate plan that is both comprehensive and individualized to meet your personal needs and family situation. 

Contact Peoria and Phoenix Estate Planning Lawyer at Patel Law P.L.C. To set up a consultation, call (602) 266- 2169.

What is a Last Will and Testament?

            A will is a written document that directs the disposition of a person’s property after his or her death. A will generally gives instructions on how the deceased would like their assets divided, who should take care of minor children, and who should be in charge of distributing assets.

 What happens if I die without a Will?

If you pass away without a valid Will, your property will be distributed according to formulas set forth in the Arizona statutes. Courts will step in and make certain decisions for you that might not reflect your wishes.  They can decide on the future of your minor children and who will act as their Guardian.  Furthermore, a court can decide who will be named as your executor (a.k.a. administrator), who will make decisions on how to dispose of your assets. Without a valid Will you will give up control of who should inherit your possessions and who will look after your children.   Making a Will is the only way to make certain that your wishes are carried out.  Without a will, it can also take longer for your family to finalize your estate.

At Patel Law P.L.C., our phoenix estate planning attorney can design a will that is customized to addresses your particular needs, goals and desires. We can help ensure that your desires to give what you want to whom you want and how you want, is accurately stated in your will and according to the laws of Arizona. We can also you’re your family members and administer your estate to ensure your wishes are carried out. Take the first step in your estate planning and call us for a confidential consulation to discuss your specific needs. Call (602) 266 – 2169 or fill out the online contact form.

What is a living trust?

A living trust, or revocable trust, is an estate-planning arrangement under which a trustee (which can be one or more individuals and/or a bank) takes title to the assets of the original owner (the “settlor”). In most cases, the settlor is also the initial trustee. The terms of the document designate who will take over as trustee when the initial trustee is no longer willing and able to act. The settlor is often the only beneficiary during his/her life.

 What are the advantages of trusts?

• Cost savings. Avoiding probate can save substantial fees and costs.

• Incapacity management. Named trustees can manage assets for a settlor’s benefit if he or she is incapacitated, avoiding the need for a court-appointed conservator.

• Tax savings. A trust arrangement can reduce estate taxes for a married couple in certain situations. Ask a lawyer for more information.

• Beneficiary protection. Setting up a continuing trust arrangement in either a will or a revocable trust can protect beneficiaries who are too young or otherwise unsuitable to receive all of their inheritance outright in a lump sum.

 

*These questions and answers are not intended to serve as or replace legal advice. If you need legal advice or have questions regarding your matter, please contact our offices.

  1. What happens if you die without a Will ?
  2. What is a Trust?
  3. What is a Revocable Living Trust?
  4. What is Probate?
  5. What is a Living Will?
  6.  What is a Durable Medical Power of Attorney?  

  7. What happens if you die without a Will?

A: If you die intestate (without a will), your state’s laws of descent and distribution will determine who receives your property by default. These laws vary from state to state, but typically the distribution would be to your spouse and children, or if none, to other family members. A state’s plan often reflects the legislature’s guess as to how most people would dispose of their estates and builds in protections for certain beneficiaries, particularly minor children. That plan may or may not reflect your actual wishes, and some of the built-in protections may not be necessary in a harmonious family setting. A will allows you to alter the state’s default plan to suit your personal preferences. It also permits you to exercise control over a myriad of personal decisions that broad and general state default provisions cannot address.

What is a Trust?

A: Trusts are legal arrangements that can provide incredible flexibility for the ownership of certain assets, thereby enabling you and your heirs to achieve a number of significant personal goals that cannot be achieved otherwise. The term trust describes the holding of property by a trustee, which may be one or more persons or a corporate trust company or bank, in accordance with the provisions of a contract, the written trust instrument, for the benefit of one or more persons called beneficiaries.  The trustee is the legal owner of the trust property, and the beneficiaries are the equitable owners of the trust property.  A person may be both a trustee and a beneficiary of the same trust.

Trusts are not only for the wealthy. Many young parents with limited assets choose to create trusts either during life or in their wills for the benefit of their children in case both parents die before all their children have reached an age deemed by the parents to indicate sufficient maturity to handle property (which often is older than the age of majority under state law). Trusts permits the trust assets to be held as a single undivided fund to be used for the support and education of minor children according to their respective needs, with eventual division of the trust among the children when the youngest has reached a specified age. This type of arrangement has an obvious advantage over an inflexible division of property among children of different ages without regard to their level of maturity or individual needs at the time of such distribution.

What is a Revocable Living Trust?

A: The term “living trust” or “revocable living trust” is generally used to describe a trust that you create during your lifetime.  A living trust can help you manage your assets or protect you should you become ill, disabled or simply challenged by the symptoms of aging. Most living trusts are written to permit you to revoke or amend them whenever you wish to do so.  These trusts do not help you avoid estate tax because your power to revoke or amend them causes them to continue to be includable in your estate.  These trusts do help you avoid probate, which may not always be necessary depending on the cost and complexity of probate in your estate.

You also can create an “irrevocable” living trust, but this type of trust may not be revoked or changed, and such a trust is almost exclusively done to produce certain tax or asset protection results, which are beyond the scope of this summary.

A “living trust” is legally in existence during your lifetime, has a trustee who currently serves, and owns property which (generally) you have transferred to it during your lifetime. While you are living, the trustee (who may be you, although a co-trustee might also be named along with you) is generally responsible for managing the property as you direct for your benefit. Upon your death, the trustee is generally directed to either distribute the trust property to your beneficiaries, or to continue to hold it and manage it for the benefit of your beneficiaries. Like a will, a living trust can provide for the distribution of property upon your death. Unlike a will, it can also (a) provide you with a vehicle for managing your property during your lifetime, and (b) authorize the trustee to manage the property and use it for your benefit (and your family) if you should become incapacitated, thereby avoiding the appointment of a guardian for that purpose. 

What is Probate?

A:Probate is the formal legal process that gives recognition to a will and appoints the executor or personal representative who will administer the estate and distribute assets to the intended beneficiaries. The laws of each state vary, so it is a good idea to consult an attorney to determine whether a probate proceeding is necessary, whether the fiduciary must be bonded (a requirement that is often waived in the will) and what reports must be prepared. Most probate proceedings are neither expensive nor prolonged, which is contrary to the claims of many vendors selling living trust and other products.

The basic job of administration and accounting for assets must be done whether the estate is handled by an executor in probate or whether probate is avoided because all assets were transferred to a living trust during lifetime or jointly owned.  Many states have simplified or streamlined their probate processes over the years.  In such states, there is now less reason to use probate avoidance techniques unless there are other valid reasons to continue to minimize probate.  In planning your estate, more important than minimizing probate is minimizing the real issues that can make probate difficult, such as lawsuits by heirs

What is a Living Will?

A: A living will is your written expression of how you want to be treated in certain medical circumstances. Depending on state law, this document may permit you to express whether you wish to be given life-sustaining treatments in the event you are terminally ill or injured, to decide in advance whether you wish to be provided food and water via intravenous devices (“tube feeding”), and to give other medical directions that impact your care, including the end of life. “Life-sustaining treatment” means the use of available medical machinery and techniques, such as heart-lung machines, ventilators, and other medical equipment and techniques that may sustain and possibly extend your life, but which may not by themselves cure your condition. Be very careful signing any such document without reviewing the implications to you. For example, some of the commonly used clauses in living wills may forbid the provision of assisted breathing, including devices you presently may be using if, for example, you are living with COPD.  Most important, many of the provisions of such a document have profound religious and philosophical implications. Be certain that whatever you sign is consistent with your beliefs and wishes. In addition to terminal illness or injury situations, most states also permit you to express your preferences as to treatment using life-sustaining equipment or tube feeding for medical conditions that leave you permanently unconscious and without detectable brain activity.

What is a Durable Medical Power of Attorney?

A: A “Durable Medical Power of Attorney” is a durable power of attorney specifically designed to cover medical treatment.  You appoint a person and grant to him or her the authority to make medical decisions for you in the event you are unable to express your preferences about medical treatment. Most commonly, this situation occurs either because you are unconscious or because your mental state is such that you do not have the legal capacity to make your own decisions. As with living wills, depending on your state of residence, the health care proxy may be a standard or statutory form or it may be may be drafted specifically for you by your lawyer.  Normally, one person (not multiple persons to act at one time) is appointed as your health care proxy.  It is quite common, however, for you to appoint one or more alternate persons (successors) in the event your first choice proxy is unavailable. You should confirm prior to appointing someone as your proxy that he or she will in fact be willing and able to carry out your wishes. If your preferred proxy  has, for example, a religious view that prevents him or her from carrying out your wishes, you should name someone else.  As in the case of a living will, medical professionals will make the initial determination as to whether you have the capacity to make your own medical treatment decisions.

 

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