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What Questions Should Your Trust Attorney Ask You?

How should you Prepare for your Meeting with Your Trust Lawyer?

Two simple things you can do beforehand make the process go faster:

1. Type out or print out the names of everyone you plan to mention in your will and/or trust. Sometimes there is an issue with a married woman as to what last names she used on her driver's license and other identification. Please resolve these issues before your appointment.

2. We will e-mail you in advance an health care power of attorney and directive to physicians. Going over this at home will save time. 

Most of our trust client hire us so their children or heirs won't have to go through probate when they die. However, a trust can accomplish a lot more than avoiding probate. When you meet with an lawyer to discuss your trust you should expect to be asked the following questions:

Disability Planning:

Unfortunately, some people's minds start to fail before their bodies give out. What happens if an older person become unable to manage their own affairs and is vulnerable to the first scam artist who contacts them?

In a trust the person who creates and funds the trust is both the settlor and almost always the original trustee. A trust can provide for the removal of the original trustee before his or her death and the replacement of that original trustee by the person who would normally not step in to take over the trust until the orginal trustee died. Expect a good trust attorney to ask you under what circumstances you would want a trusted family member or friend to take over as trustee of your trust while you are still alive. Would you want your daughter to take over as trustee just upon her sole determination that you could not handle your own affairs? Would you want a majority vote of your three children before that determination is made? Would you want a medical doctor to have to give an affidavit before the successor trustee could take over from you while you are still alive. Or, would you rather that you remain as trustee as long as you are alive unless a court determines that you are incompetent? We discuss these various alternative under Nevada law with our clients.

What if Various People Die Before You Do?

Parents hate being asked how their estate plans should be changed if one of their children dies before they do. In most cases that doesn't happen and it is unpleasant to think about. But attorneys get paid to think about unlikely situations. Expect your attorney to ask questions like:

  1. If your child dies before you would you want that child's share to go to his or her children, or to your other children.
  2. Yes, I know you want a particular person to be the successor trustee after you die, but if that person is not able to do so, who is your second choice? Who is your third choice? Who is your fourth choice?

Providing for Minor Children or Grandchildren:

If a minor might inherit under your estate plans, who will supervise the minor's money until the minor is old enough to have it?

How old is "old enough to have the inheritance?" Legally, a person is an adult at age 18. Do you want the young person to have the entire inheritance, no strings attached at age 18?

Do you want the young person's inheritance to have strings attached such as the money must be spent for medical or educational needs before a certain age?

Would you like the young person to receive the inheritance in portions, say 1/3 at 18, 1/3 at 21 and 1/3 at 25?

Who should control the young person's money until it is distributed? Depending on the amount of money and the family circumstances that person could be a relative, friend, lawyer or financial institution.

What are the investment guidelines for the person holding a young person's money?

Health Care Power of Attorney:

Most of our clients who have us do a trust also execute a Health Care Power of Attorney. We don't charge extra for this. The Health Care Power of Attorney does two things:

  1. It says who should make health care decision for them if they are unable to make their own decision, and
  2. It sets out guidelines for when to stop treating if the medical situation is hopeless or very bad.

The health care power of attorney can also provide for organ donation, cremation, or burial. It could be a very important document. Please read the section at this website Health Care Power of Attorney and then click on the hyperlinks in that section to see some of the questions to consider.