If you’re like most estate planning clients, you have lots of questions. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked estate planning questions.
What does “pay on death” mean?
“Pay on death” or “transfer on death” both mean that a named beneficiary receives the asset upon the owner’s death. Pay on death is abbreviated “POD” and transfer on death is abbreviated “TOD.”
What’s so bad about probate?
Typically, probate is public, expensive, and lengthy.
A listing of your beneficiaries and how much they received is published at the court house.
Probate has court, executor, and attorney fees that must be paid. These fees are typically higher than when probate is avoided.
Probate takes on average between 12 to 16 months to complete.
Do I need a living will and a will?
Yes, you need a living will and a will. They are two different documents with different purposes.
Your living will instructs that you do not wish to be kept alive with heroic measures if you are in a persistent vegetative state, irreversible coma, or otherwise terminal and at the very end of life.
On the other hand, you will nominates your executor, appoints guardians of minor children, and distributes your assets.
Will my stepchildren inherit from me?
Unless you legally adopt your stepchildren, they are not your children in the eyes of the law. If you wish to provide for them at your death, you must specifically do so in your will or trust.
Do I need to update my estate plan?
Yes, your estate plan needs to be updated every three to five years to capture changes in the law, your life, and your attorney’s experience.
If certain events occur, it is in your best interest to update your estate planning documents sooner. Such events would include life changes (marriage, divorce, new children, or a move) and financial changes (acquiring a new business or drastic change in your assets.)
If you have further estate planning questions, read FAQ: Estate Planning (Part 2) and consult with a qualified estate planning attorneys.