Do you already have a Trust? Is it a Living Trust or Revocable Living Trust or a Family Trust?
If you already have a Trust, you then need to answer the following questions:
How old is it?
Do you have signed copies?
Is it up to date?
Does it consider the current tax laws?
There was a major tax law change at the beginning of 2012, and many people with older Trusts aren’t aware that their Trust may not be appropriate for their current family situation. You need to have a professional Estate Planning Attorney read your Trust together with you and explain how it will work when you’re incapacitated or die, and how the tax law changes may make your current Trust obsolete.
You need to think about who will be making the decisions for you if you’re incapacitated, and who will make the decisions for your estate after you die. Have you named the right people? Are they likely to outlive you? Have you named alternates in case those people can’t act for you? I frequently have people coming to me with complaints about an older Trustee who is making poor decisions and won’t resign. What does your family do then? Go to court? Needlessly spend thousands of dollars on a legal dispute?
Did you lend $50,000 or $100,000 to one child who has never paid it back? Does your Trust document consider this to make sure that your wishes are known? When the son of one my clients found out what his father’s Trust said, he shredded all of the documents so that he wouldn’t have to pay back the debt and he would receive much more than his brothers and sisters. Since we keep copies of our clients’ documents, we just provided a copy set to the family and the son wasn’t allowed to “double dip” from his parents’ wealth.
If you have a Trust, make sure you know what it says, and make sure that it’s the right Trust for you.