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New Year’s Resolution – GET TRUST DONE

Ok, maybe it’s not exactly a “resolution” but I think it’s akin to it.  Many people go into the new year with a list of self improvement goals, including the thought to get their estate plan done.  The list might be something like this:

– Go the gym at least 5 days a week;

– Don’t eat sweets;

– Cut down to 2 cups of coffee in the morning;

– Get estate plan done this year;

etc….

I already go to the gym, or run, 7 days a week so Iam not vowing any change there!  I don’t eat a lot of sweets and I don’t drink coffee. However, I am not changing my iced tea consumption!  I have a great estate plan set up! Oh wait, this blog isn’t about me….

I have found that a lot of people enter each new year with the idea that, “this year we will finally get our trust done.”  Often they admit they have been talking about getting their estate plan done since their child was born. Those people generally have college age, or OLDER, “kids.”  However, whenever you get your estate plan done doesn’t matter… just GET IT DONE!

I occasionally meet with someone who tells me they will get back to me “soon” to finish their plan.  I tell them, “just call me at least two weeks before it’s needed.”  Some laugh and some don’t… I suspect the ones that don’t laugh are the ones that actually GET IT… that is, the day your estate plan is actually NEEDED may be a day too late for you to sign your documents!

A simple trust may avoid probate.  That avoidance of probate, in simple math, will probably saved your loved ones about 4% on average. That is, 4% of your GROSS estate.  That can add up quick!  Probate also takes 7 months MINIMUM to complete and a lot of people don’t want to make their loved ones go through that.

A more complex trust may avoid estate taxes.  Did you know that, under current law, for all deaths happening after January 1, 2011 you can only give away $1,000,000 tax free? Did you know your assets above that could be subject to an estate tax above fifty percent?  FIFTY PERCENT!  That is, fifty cents of EVERY SINGLE HARD EARNED DOLLAR could go to the tax man!  Yes, it’s true!

Beyond the dollars and cents are the personal issues. You know what I am talking about… huge fights over mom’s crystal, fights over dad’s antique gun, etc… avoid all that drama by getting your estate plan in writing!

I encourage you to make a new year’s resolution to get your estate plan done this year. I encourage you to put a date on that resolution. For example, “I will make an appointment with a qualified estate planning attorney by January 15, 2010.”

As discussed previously I can get your plan done in two-three weeks. The first step is to contact an attorney and that’s up to YOU.  If you don’t know who to call I hope you will call me. If you find my blog amusing but you don’t want to hire me then contact another attorney who is a certified specialist in estate planning, trust and probate law.  You can find this list at the California State Bar website….

Happy New Year to you and yours… and speaking of YOURS, get your estate plan done as it’s a big gift to your family and loved ones!

-John