The flat fee quotation covers the following:
1.A thorough review of your assets, your liabilities, your income, your expenses, your heirs, your beneficiaries and your goals. We ask for your data to be organized before the meeting. Even with that, the meeting normally takes an hour.
2.At that meeting, we make suggestions and assist you in deciding what it is you wish to do now and what you might want to consider for the future.
3.A simple will (package) includes: The will, a Durable Power of Attorney, A Medical Durable Power of Attorney, and a living will “Declaration.”
4.We retain your original documents in our office safe for as long as you wish at no charge.
5.We provide you with a neat and indexed three-ring binder of your estate documents together with extra copies of the power of attorney documents.
6.We retain your hard-file and computer files for your life-time or until you decide to retrieve your documents.
7.We schedule you for a meeting in five years which is a no-cost review to determine if your documents still meet your needs.
8.Another option aside from assuming that a simple will (and related documents) is what you need is to begin by booking a complete “review and tune-up” of your estate. Depending upon your age and your health we will consider Medicaid planning, Veteran’s benefits planning, tax avoidance, avoidance of probate, etc. After that meeting we will then give you a flat fee quotation or a quotation of a “range of fees” to complete whatever documents you require. This meeting normally takes at least an hour. We will travel to you anywhere in Rhode Island for this meeting.
The point is that we are not interested in drafting cookie-cutter wills and sending you on your way. We wish to create an ongoing relationship so that you can adjust your estate planning documents to your changing conditions over time. We know you can find an attorney to draft wills at cheaper prices (and many that charge much more!) but as it is ,our will practice is conducted at rates that are “more than fair” given what we deliver because we want to be your attorney for as long as you reside in Rhode Island.
Trusts Are For Everyone
Many people think of trusts as something only wealthy folks need. Indeed, there are certain kinds of trusts that benefit the wealthy for estate tax purposes. But there are also trusts which benefit people who do not consider themselves wealthy and who do not face estate tax issues.
People in Rhode Island with estates larger than $1.5 million should explore trust options which can minimize or eliminate their state estate tax liability.
Trusts for Other (non-estate tax) reasons:
Trusts of all shapes and sizes have the benefit of bypassing probate. Regardless of the other reasons for creating a trust, property held in the trust may be distributed upon the death of the trust’s creator (also known as the “grantor”). This takes place without the need for probate, which can be costly and time consuming. This assumes that the trust does not specify any further conditions on the disposition of the trust property, which we discuss below.
Controlling From the Grave:
While trusts generally allow for beneficiaries to receive distributions soon after the death of the grantor, the grantor may choose to create restrictions upon those distributions. For instance, where a beneficiary has a substance abuse problem, the grantor may wish to have that beneficiary’s share controlled by a successor trustee unless or until the beneficiary proves able to handle the trust assets on his own. The same type of arrangements may be made for a spendthrift beneficiary. Or there may be a disabled beneficiary whose public or private benefits would be jeopardized by an outright distribution of the trust assets. In this case, the disabled beneficiary’s share could remain in a special needs “subtrust” in order to protect those benefits.
Similar to the disability or special needs trust mentioned above, an irrevocable trust may be created by the grantor during his or her life in order to shield the trust assets from the high cost of a nursing home. While this type of irrevocable trust restricts the grantor’s control over the trust assets, this sacrificed control comes with the benefit of the trust assets being preserved for the trust beneficiaries regardless of how the grantor’s future unfolds. Note that there are certain other conditions which must be met in order for this type of long-term care planning to be effective.
Trusts also serve the valuable function of allowing another person to manage your assets if you are unable to during your lifetime. By putting your home, investments, or other property into a trust, your chosen successor trustee may manage the trust on your behalf in an emergency situation. Instead of running the risk of your loved ones having to pursue a guardianship in order to manage your affairs, your trust creates the automatic legal ability for them to do so. In this sense, a trust is much like a power of attorney but avoids some problems which often occur with powers of attorney such as institutional restrictions on their use by some banks and financial entities and the problems caused by “dueling powers of attorney” when the grantor changed his or her mind as to who would be in charge of their affairs during their lifetime.
There are many other beneficial reasons to include a trust as part of your estate plan. Please contact us to hear how a trust might make sense for you. As always, we remind you that “we make house calls in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.”
If you or your loved ones are in need of experienced counseling for the delicate matters of wills and trusts contact the Estate Planning Lawyers at The Law Offices of Howe and Garside.