5 Things to Consider Before You Create a Trust

setting up a living trust

You’ve worked hard to build up your property and your savings. What’s the best way to protect your estate and pass it on to your heirs?

You could write a will, but a will has its drawbacks. An estate can be tied up in probate for months, with fees eating up some of the inheritance. People concerned about these issues have another option: creating a revocable trust.

Here are 5 things to consider when setting up a revocable trust.

1. What Is a Revocable Trust

A revocable trust is a legal arrangement in which an individual (the settlor) shifts ownership of personal property into the legal ownership of the trust. This property can include all types of assets, including land, bank accounts, houses, jewelry, or intellectual property. A revocable trust can be set up at any point and can also be changed or dismantled if desired.

The trust is overseen by a trustee, who may be a family member or friend, a corporation, a bank, or the person who originally created the trust. 

The trust agreement documents the settlor’s instructions, including how the assets are to be managed, who receives income from the trust, and who the beneficiaries are.

The trust names the beneficiaries that will inherit at the termination of the trust, such as when the settlor passes away. The beneficiaries could be individuals, such as friends and family members, or organizations, such as charities.

2. Differences Between a Revocable Trust and a Will

When choosing whether to create a revocable trust or a will, there are many aspects to consider.

Going Through Probate 

The main reason people chose to establish a living trust is to bypass probate, the process through which the courts oversee the distribution of property from a will. Since a revocable trust does not go through probate, it can sometimes be settled faster, and can save the costs of the probate process.

When a will is executed, going through probate can take a year or longer, and the personal representative in charge of the will might need to report regularly back to the courts. The estate must also pay probate costs, such as fees owed to executors, attorneys, or accountants. These fees can add up to 5-10% of the total estate.

Fees

Since the creation of a revocable trust requires a property to be listed and then transferred to the living trust, the process of setting up a living trust can be much more expensive than writing a will.

Creating a Will and a Trust

In most situations, you will need to create both a will and a trust.

A will created in addition to a revocable trust can address the distribution of all assets not included in the trust. In one simple type of will, a “pour-over will,” everything that hasn’t been assigned to the trust gets “poured” into it, including property that was not originally transferred to the trust, or property that was acquired after the trust was created.

3. Revocable versus Irrevocable Trusts

There is another type of trust commonly used in estate planning: irrevocable trusts.

A revocable trust transfers ownership of estates and assets to the trust, but the settlor keeps the power to change or terminate the revocable trust.

An irrevocable trust permanently transfers ownership of assets to the trust. The settlor cannot revoke the trust or control the property. For this reason, most people choose a revocable trust instead. However, some people favor an irrevocable trust because it can assist in nursing home planning.

4. Transferring Assets to the Trust

Since a revocable trust holds the estate and assets of the settlor, it takes a lot of paperwork to set up a trust. 

When creating a trust, make a list of all the assets you own. This can include the land you own, large items like your home or car, small items such as your jewelry, or financial assets such as stocks and life insurance properties.

Once you have listed your assets, you will need to find paperwork for all the assets, including automobile titles, property deeds, stock certificates, or life insurance information. Some of this paperwork will need to be redone as you transfer your assets to the trust. For instance, after you set up a living trust you will need to get a new deed for your house, showing that the house is the property of the revocable trust.

After the assets have been placed in a trust, the settlor can allow a trustee to manage the estate and administration work. This is one reason people choose revocable trusts.

5. Providing for Minor Children

If you have children who are under 18 years old, you must create a will to name legal guardians for your children in the event of your death. You cannot name a legal guardian for a child in a revocable trust. 

However, you can set up a child’s subtrust within a revocable trust. In this case, the successor trustee would manage the property you leave to the child. 

Setting up a Revocable Trust

If creating a revocable trust seems like the best way to protect your assets, our team can advise you on all the details that go into the creation of a trust. Contact us to learn more.

5 Essential Tips to Have in Mind When Looking for a Corporate Lawyer to Represent Your Business

Business attorney

As a business owner, you need to have a business attorney to represent you in times of need. Troubles with a contract, employee problems, and customer claims are just a few reasons why a business lawyer is an essential part of your team.

Because of their importance, hiring a business lawyer is a task that shouldn’t be taken lightly. A simple search on your internet browser can lead you to many local business lawyers, but you don’t want to hire anyone you come across. 

You need to ensure that the attorney you decide to hire is one who will represent you when needed and provide you with excellent service as someone you can trust for years to come. Continue reading below for a few secrets on how to find the right attorney for you and your business!

Here’s everything you need to know about finding someone who’ll be the best fit!

1. Request a Consultation

If you believe you’ve found a lawyer that you like, request a consultation before making a final decision. When you sit down with him or her, this is the time to figure out as much about him or her as possible. Get to know the attorney’s personality and if it goes well with yours and your business.

Use this time wisely. Ask all questions you have and give full details about your business and what you expect from the attorney. 

Then, allow the attorney to explain how he or she will provide you with your business needs and how he or she will meet these expectations. Ask what the process for attorney and clients is as well. 

It’s a good idea to ask about the cost of this consultation before the meeting, so you know what to expect.

2. Ask for Recommendations 

If you’re having a hard time finding a lawyer or two to schedule a consultation with, then begin asking friends and family members for recommendations. There’s a good chance that someone you know knows a good attorney that is well respected in your area.

As a business owner, you most likely have a few business partners or business friends. If this is the case, then be sure to ask them what attorney they work with as well. 

Choosing someone who has a good reputation with your business friends gives you peace of mind knowing that you’re making a solid decision. 

3. Research Their Experience 

Having a few recommendations from friends is a great starting point. You should do some of your own research as well. Take the time to do an online search to research in-depth the attorneys that you’ve selected.

How much experience does each attorney have? Aside from years of general experience, how many years of local experience does each attorney have? 

You should try to find someone who has plenty of experience working in the area where your business is located. Each state and city has its own guidelines, laws, and regulations for businesses. 

You’ll want to hire someone who is familiar with all of these specifics. 

4. Ask for Referrals 

Another great thing to ask from the attorney is for referrals. If he or she is a reputable attorney, then he or she will have several referrals to offer you. Once the attorney gives you a few referrals, be sure to reach out to these past clients. 

Call each referral and ask them questions about their own experience with the attorney. Learn about all the good the attorney has done for them and even some of the not-so-great experiences. 

5. Assess Different Fees 

The fees that an attorney charges shouldn’t be the only determining factor you use to decide who you’ll choose. There are great attorneys who charge hefty fees and great attorneys who charge much smaller fees. 

What you need to be aware of, however, is that not all attorneys are great attorneys. Don’t let the price of one sway you in a certain direction without doing the rest of your research first. Once you have a few great attorneys narrowed done, you can then use their fees to determine which one is a better fit for you. 

6. Locate a Local Attorney

Locating a local attorney is important because this will be someone who knows about the area and other local businesses as well. Think about what legal needs your business has. A local attorney should know how to handle these legal needs in the area where your business is located. 

Choosing someone who’s local also helps when it’s time to set up a consultation. It also helps when it’s time to meet up with your attorney in person for future meetings as well. A local attorney might also have strong relationships with local officials and courthouses. 

All of these factors can come in handy when it’s time for the attorney to defend you in a case. You can access local lawyer directories to ensure you’re only shifting through attorneys that are local. 

Do You Need an Experienced Business Attorney? 

If you’re a business owner, then you need to hire an experienced business attorney who can be by your side during your most crucial times of need. 

You never know when you might be faced with difficult times and in need of an amazing, experienced, local attorney who you can trust.

Click here to contact us today to see how we can help you with all your legal business needs!

What Does an Elder Law Attorney Do? This is What You Need to Know

By 2030, one out of every five Americans will be 65 years of age or older. Never before has the country had such a large over-60 population. 

As the population ages, elder care and elder law are becoming more complex. Families are increasingly struggling with the documentation and processes associated with living well in old age.

Keep reading to learn how an elder law attorney can help you and your loved ones manage the changes and challenges of aging. 

What Is Elder Law?

What is elder law, exactly? At its simplest, it is the body of law that deals with the elderly, their needs, and their rights. 

Elder law covers a wide range of concerns, including:  

  • Estates, estate planning, and trusts
  • Guardianship or conservatorship issues
  • Disability and special needs planning 
  • Long-term care arrangements 
  • Elder abuse 

Within each of these categories are numerous sub-categories of laws, rights, and limitations.  

Estates, Estate Planning, and Trusts

Estate planning is the process of deciding what will happen to a person’s belongings, including their home and finances when he or she dies. Although estate planning is its own category of law, it is also considered elder law. 

Guardianship or Conservatorship Issues

Illness, dementia, disabilities, and other conditions can render elders incapable of making decisions for themselves. When this happens, another person must step in and make decisions for them. Determining who that person should be and completing the paperwork to make that decision legal is elder law. 

Disability and Special Needs Planning 

The disability planning portion of elder law includes protecting one’s assets and ensuring resources for care in the event of a disability. Disability planning is important for elders, but also for families in which a child or other disabled party is dependent on the elderly person in question. 

Long-Term Care Arrangements 

Long-term is consistently more expensive than Americans realize. To make matters worse, few Americans understand the complicated restrictions associated with Medicare, Medicaid and veterans’ benefits. Hiring an elder law attorney is often the only way to properly prepare to meet the demands of long-term care costs. 

Elder Abuse

Vulnerable elders may become victims of physical, emotional, or financial abuse. Elder law covers their rights and protections. 

What Is an Elder Law Attorney?

An elder law attorney is a lawyer who specializes in elder care issues. He or she: 

  • Understands the complexities of elder care law
  • Knows the laws and regulations specific to Wisconsin Medicaid planning
  • Is experienced in helping families walk through the legal processes necessary to protect themselves and their assets 
  • Can break down complicated legal topics into easy-to-understand language
  • Can protect your rights or your loved one’s rights in the event of abuse 

Elder care attorneys can assist you and your family in:

  • Making important decisions
  • Financial planning
  • Completing critical paperwork to ensure your decisions will be recognized and respected

Decision Making

Often, elders aren’t even aware of all the decisions they need to make. Many have incorrect assumptions about what they need or can expect. 

Elderl law attorneys can educate elders and their families on what questions they need to ask and answer. They can explain standard practices and options. Through this, they can help families reach the decisions that will serve them best. 

Financial Planning

As one gets older, financial planning becomes far more involved than simply having a 401k or other investments. Depending on one’s age, health, and assets, it can include:

The laws and restrictions regulating these activities vary by state, so it is important to get the help of a legal professional when drawing them up. 

Completing Paperwork

In the modern world, aging comes with an abundance of paperwork. Much of it is obscure or confusing. Worse, if it is not done absolutely correctly, it may be considered invalid. 

An elder care attorney can help families complete or draw up: 

  • Medicare or Medicaid applications
  • Veterans benefits applications 
  • Revocable living trusts
  • Estate planning documents
  • Living Will and airtight Power of Attorney documents

When to Get an Elder Law Attorney

Now that you know what elder law attorneys do, how do you know when you need one?  Realistically, if you or a loved one is 65 years of age or older, or is at or approaching retirement age, it is smart to consult an attorney. 

Finding an attorney is particularly important if the elder: 

  • Is disabled or has disabled dependents 
  • Owns a business or other substantial assets
  • Has acute or chronic health conditions
  • Has been married more than once or is recently divorced
  • Has no children or does not have good relationships with their children

When in doubt, best practice is to consult with an attorney to ensure that your plans and documents are adequate, legal, and complete. 

How to Find an Elder Law Attorney

When choosing an elder law attorney, there are few key factors to keep in mind.

First, make sure you are selecting an attorney experienced in elder law. Not just “any” attorney will do. You need to select an attorney or firm with experience in elder law

Second, choose an attorney located and licensed to practice in your state. Elder law varies widely from state to state, as do the requirements for essential documents such as living wills and trusts. Choosing a local attorney can ensure you get assistance customized to your state’s requirements. 

Finally, choose an attorney that you or your loved one is comfortable with. Elder law involves discussing and making decisions about deeply important and personal issues. Selecting an attorney that you trust can make those difficult conversations easier.  

Talk to an Attorney Today

If you or your loved one is aging, don’t wait to contact an elder law attorney and make sure your affairs are in order. There is no substitute for the peace of mind that comes with knowing your family will be protected even if the worst happens and no better gift you can give the ones you love. 

Contact Wisconsin elder law attorneys to get started today.