The Law Offices of Serra & Isopi, P.C.
, have been providing estate planning services to thousands of clients to assist them in providing a smooth transition for transfer of assets at their death
, to provide care for their children and avoid probate court, estate taxes and other costs.
We can prepare, at a fair price, Trusts, Wills, Powers of Attorney, health care directives and deeds. We can give you the guidance that you need to feel comfortable that your family and assets will be protected in the event of death or disability. Call us now for a free phone consultation.
What is a Trust?
A Living Trust is an agreement between the creator of it called the Settlor or Grantor and the Trustee, the person in charge. The creator of the Trust is usually also the Trustee until his or her death, then a named Successor Trustee takes over. The Trust agreement states how the Trust will operate before and after the Grantor's death and what will happen with the assets of the Trust.
A Trust enables you to create a separate legal entity to protect your property and assets from probate, taxes and public scrutiny. It is designed to hold and invest property for the benefit of you and your beneficiary upon your death. A Revocable Trust gives you full control of the assets you place in trust and peace of mind the property will go to your intended beneficiaries without Probate court involvement.
With a Trust, after your death, you can delay payment to a beneficiary or put conditions on payment to a beneficiary for reasons such as age, incompetence, disability, gambling problem and/or drug or alcohol addiction. A Trust will give you peace of mind that your assets will not be wasted or go to a person you never intended.Can a Trust Be Changed?
As long as the Grantor is alive and the Trust is a revocable one the Grantor can alter, change it or void it. Assets can be placed in it and taken out of the Trust. Through an Amendment, the Trust can be altered, including who is named as a beneficiary and Successor Trustee, and under what conditions they can act and/or receive the assets.Is the Revocable Trust Taxable?
As long as the Grantor is alive, no separate tax return needs to be filed, nor tax identification obtained. The Grantor's Social Security Number is used. The Grantor will continue to report on his or her individual tax return income, deductions, dividends, gains and losses, and interest. There is no legal requirement to keep a separate record of assets in the Trust during the Grantor's lifetime, but it is a good idea to keep a record so that the Successor Trustee, after the death of the Grantor, who is the initial Trustee can administer the Trust assets.How Do I Place Assets in the Trust?
The Trust agreement only applies to assets in the Trust. In order for the assets to be in the Trust, the Trust has to own the asset or be named a beneficiary of an asset. In the case of the Trust being a beneficiary, the asset comes into the Trust on the death of the Grantor.
The Grantor would need to do a Deed placing real estate into the Trust. The new owner, for example, would be John Smith, Trustee of the John Smith Trust dated 3/1/2014. Stocks, bonds, savings accounts and other similar accounts not in retirement accounts would also have to be titled in the name of the Trust. Insurance policies and annuities would name the Trust as the beneficiary.
The Law Offices of Serra & Isopi, P.C. can work with you to establish a will and trust, no matter how large or small your assets might be. Contact us today for a free phone consultation.
There are three types of power of attorney:
- Durable Power of Attorney - Is in effect immediately upon signing. Remains in effect during incompetence or other disability.
- Standby Power of Attorney - Is triggered when there is an incapacity to manage affairs.
- Temporary Power of Attorney - Generally applies only if an emergency arises. Also given by parents to another relative or adult who is temporarily taking care of their child or children.
Contact The Law Offices of Serra & Isopi, P.C. today to discuss your options regarding POWER of ATTORNEY.
The fact that a person may be suffering from a mental condition, such as Alzheimer's and/or Dementia does not automatically mean they were unable to have the mental capacity to sign a will and/or trust, if they meet the criteria above.
Even if the person had the mental capacity to sign a Will and/or Trust, the Will and/or Trust could be found invalid if the signer was unduly influenced in signing it.
The undue influence must be of a kind that it overpowers the signer's free will and prevents the signer doing as the signer pleases with his or her property.
The influence can take the form of force, threats, flattery, persuasion, fraud, misrepresentation, physical coercion and/or moral coercion.
A Will and/or Trust that results from undue influence is one which the signer would not have made but for the undue influence.Fraud
A Will and/or Trust is not valid if it was signed as a result of fraud. That is, there was a misrepresentation of a material fact to the signer and he or she relied on it and was influenced by the misrepresentation in disposing of his or her property.
If you need to contest a Will and/or Trust, you will need an attorney who understands the complicated legal challenge ahead. If you believe a friend and/or relative did not have sufficient capacity, was unduly influenced and/or was fraudulently induced to sign a Will and/or Trust, call us for a free phone consultation.
Contact The Law Offices of Serra & Isopi, P.C. today for a free consultation.
Probate is a court-supervised process of transferring property to the intended recipients, following the death of the owner. The goal of probate is to re-title and otherwise transfer a descendant's property to his or her heirs or other intended recipients, after paying the debts of the estate. The probate process typically involves the following general steps:Hiring an attorneyOpening of the estate with the probate courtPresentation of the Will (if there is one) to the courtAppointment, by the court, of a personal representative of the estateTaking and reporting of the inventory of assets of the estatePayment of debts of the estate and settlement of similar mattersDistribution of the assets of the estate to intended or legally entitled recipientsOrder of discharge from the court; closing of the estate
Limited Advantages of Probate
Major Disadvantages of Probate
- No planning: does not require any advance planning
- Public Records: in some limited instances, an individual may desire a public record of the distribution of their assets
- Family Quarrels: probate represents a formal adjudicatory process which may be desirable when family members are at odds with one another over assets of the estate.
- Length: typically 7-12 months from death to discharge of the estate.
- Cost: attorney fees, filing, publication, and inventory fees
- Hassle: length/cost, procedure and court filings requiring ongoing attention
- Privacy: probate is public record, accessible to any and all.
Probate estate planning with an attorney can negate the need for probate court, through Trusts, beneficiary designations and more. We can discuss estate planning measures to avoid the complication of probate in the distribution of your Will and execution of your wishes, or we can assist you in dealing with probate for a loved one. Contact The Law Offices of Serra & Isopi, P.C. today for a free consultation.