So many clients call my office and say, "Hi, our situation is very simple. How much do you charge for something simple?" Then I start asking them questions, and they quickly realize it's not as "simple" as they thought. Here is a list of some of the things we cover:
1) Is this a blended family or not? What is the family situation?
2) What kind of trust might be best for them. A basic trust? An AB Trust? A Disclaimer Trust?
3) Should their powers of attorney be effective immediately or upon their incapacity?
4) Who should have access to their medical records?
5) What kind of medical treatment do they want if they are sick?
6) Who will be in charge of their estate if they can't manage things? Who will be second and/or third in line? Are they naming co-Trustees? Is that a good idea? What will happen if there are disagreements?
7) When will those people be allowed to act? What is the triggering event? Is their authority effective immediately and will there be any limitations?
8) What will happen, if anything, upon the first spouse's death?
9) Will the surviving spouse have the ability to make changes to their trust?
10) Who will get their estate after they die? How will that happen? What if the people they choose die before them? What happens then?
11) What if one of their beneficiaries is disabled?
12) What if their children are in the middle of a divorce, bankruptcy, or lawsuit? How can we protect them from losing their inheritance?
13) What types of assets do they have and how should those assets pass?
14) How should they hold title to each asset?
15) Do they have any sons-in-law or daughters-in-law that may pose a problem?
16) How well do their children get along?
17) What if they move to another state?
18) What should happen with their real estate after they pass away? Will it be sold, rented, etc.?
19) Are there any beneficiaries with special issues (alcoholism, substance abuse problems, bankruptcy, money control issues, etc.)?
These are just some examples of what we talk about during that first meeting. Many clients are very surprised to learn just how much goes into all of this. If you are looking for something "simple" and you're not asking difficult questions, you might end up with something "simple" that doesn't offer you and your family much protection. You may end up with a house of straw that crumbles when you need it the most. Also, it's important to know HOW to use your plan...not just "have" a plan.
Our office typically offers free consultations for people who have no estate plan in place. There is no pressure, and we think you will find the first meeting very informative. You have nothing to lose. Call our office at (661) 414-7100 to see if we can help you. We serve Santa Clarita, Valencia, Canyon Country, Newhall, Castaic, Stevenson Ranch, and surrounding communities. We have clients all over Los Angeles and Orange Counties.