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I have written a number of posts discussing the little-known benefits of revocable living trusts (“RLT”). However, the fact is that the main benefit is that the RLT is the kindest to your family. I am sold on revocable living trusts (“RLT”) because I care about my clients! An RLT is the estate plan that is kindest to you and your family when they most need it. Who says? My Dad! A former Probate Judge who practiced law for over 50 years, he asked me to write an RLT for him and my Mother. What does this tell you?
In contrast, a Harvard lawyer delayed and never got an RLT. His will required Probate. Probate meant lawyers, court, deadlines, affidavits, notices to beneficiaries, creditors, and TennCare; buying and selling assets, new bank accounts and tax returns, and much more. His spouse spent more than $16,000 in legal fees satisfying legal requirements. Another client spent over 150 hours as an Executor of an estate.
Have mercy on you and your family! To find out more, see the attachment below. It helps you get started. I offer a FREE short consultation.
You may know that a will is a public document once probated since it is published in the Probate Court files. Some of you may know that your revocable living trust gives you some privacy since it is a private agreement. But I bet that you do not know that you may form a “secret trust” under Tennessee law. What does this mean and why would you want one?
What is a secret trust and how does it work? In Tennessee Code Annotated Sec. 35-15-813 it says that “A trustee shall keep the current income or principal beneficiaries of the trust reasonably informed about the trust and its administration.
However, this duty to keep beneficiaries informed does not apply if the terms of the trust provide otherwise or the settlor of the trust, or a trust protector or trust advisor given such the power directs otherwise in a writing delivered to the trustee. Furthermore, the trustee can require a beneficiary eligible to receive such information to keep it confidential.
Particularly in this time of Covid, your families cannot afford for you to ignore estate planning. This series in my blog will discuss some of my Linkedin posts and other materials describing less knows features of RLT’s. Pass it on!
A well-drafted RLT package provides you and your family superior financial management. As the Trustee (manager) you manage your affairs as long as you are willing and able. You choose a successor trustee to manage the trust in case you are no longer willing or able to do so, as with disability. When you pass away, your successor trustee can supervise the trust property for family members and others who may not be able to manage it themselves, such as those who are too young or too old. In your RLT agreement, you can specify specific instructions for your trustee to take care of beneficiaries. in almost any way that you can imagine. For example, a recent client had me draft instructions that the trustee distribute assets to his child at ages 22 and 25. He could have triggered it upon a certain level of education or upon marriage or buying a house. My RLT agreement also protects trust property from creditors of the beneficiaries.
If you used a Will to provide the same benefits it works only upon your death and it must be settled through the Probate Court when you pass on. You can give your loved ones proper time to grieve by avoiding the added anxiety, wasted time, and unnecessary fees of a Probate Court administration.
Contracts are essential to your business since they determine your legal rights and obligations. Yet they are frequently hard to understand, stressful, and sometimes crammed down your throat by a larger company with more lawyers.
In addition, most of us have negotiated with parties that we just could not push around. What if you could make each contract a blessing to your business? I call this “Peak Negotiation.” The key is to negotiate more effectively!
- There are some tips. First, play it straight and be flexible. I recommend a book by Stephen Covey called The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Covey recommends what he calls win-win contracts. With a win-win contract, both parties to a contract can win. To achieve a win-win contract you must (i) understand the other party, (ii) begin with the end in mind (iii) be proactive, and (iv) put first things first. These are valuable rules that I use in negotiating. Write the contract so that the parties become like partners instead of adversaries. They work together.
Another good source of ideas comes from marriage counseling techniques. The parties improve their contractual relationship by communicating so they understand each other’s feelings and goals — what the other party really wants and really hates and why. This way, each party can try to give the other party what they want. See generally, The Power of Two, Susan Heitler.
Another obvious source of negotiating ideas is the One Minute Negotiator by Don Hutson and George Lucas. There is much to learn from this book, particularly, understanding your own likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, and those of the other party. Don reinforces win-win and many of the above strategies. He has good material on how to deal with ornery folks.
Wis Laughlin has practiced law for over 40 years and is a former General Counsel of a national software company a former IRS attorney, and is an Accredited Estate Planner. Call for a FREE half-hour consultation. 901 218-7820.
See also The Nuts and Bolts of Contracts
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I have been talking about the benefits of a revocable living trust plan for your family. The following true story says it all. In a meeting with recent widow, she asked me what she had to do to settle her late husband’s estate. She was worried because she had recently served as Executor of a friend’s estate and put in over 100 hours getting through a Probate Court settlement of that decedent’s will.
She was a business owner and effective manager, so I figured she had followed my instructions to place all of her husband’s property in his trust. She had. So I told her, “You are named as successor trustee of your husband’s trust. You and he had worked together on your finances. So you simply manage assets in the trust, just as you always did before. File your final tax return. Not much else. You do not have to go to Court. Keep paying bills.”
Considering the hardships of Covid-19, it should come as no surprise that estate planning is more important than ever. If you do not have an adequate estate plan, your family will likely suffer–financially and emotionally.Your estate plan is primarily for them! If you already have one of my current revocable living trust (RLT) plans, this e-mail will remind you of some of its great advantages.
In addition to the revocable living trust, the RLT package contains a Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA). If sickness or injury impairs your mental capacity, the DPOA authorizes a person of your choice to legally act on your behalf. Without it, your family might have to go to court so a judge can appoint a conservator to manage your legal affairs. This process is expensive, time-consuming, and potentially embarrassing. My RLT package allows your family to completely avoid a conservatorship, so avoid it!
As an Accredited Estate Planner and Super Lawyer in taxation, I can help you protect yourself and your family. If you don’t know whether an RLT Package is right for you, contact me for a free consultation. If you already have an RLT Package, please share this with your friends.
Harry W. (Wis) Laughlin
While it is easy to get distracted by current events, we mustn’t forget about estate planning. If you already have one of my revocable living trust (RLT) plans, you have taken a vital step in protecting yourself and your loved ones. Consider the following true story with the names changed for privacy purposes.
Not long ago a new client, Jill, came to me for help after her husband, Dave, had recently passed away. Although it was a tragic and emotional situation, she had little time to grieve. There were bills piling up and family disagreements followed closely behind. As is all too common, they hadn’t prepared for this unfortunate situation. Probate Court proceedings were required. Jill was overwhelmed with hours of tasks, paperwork, deadlines, and pricey Probate Court appearances–leading to initial legal fees exceeding $15,000!
If Dave had created a revocable living trust for himself, Jill would’ve been able to avoid Probate and save a substantial amount of money. Dave could have named her as successor Trustee. She would be able to take control without Court interference. My experience allows me to incorporate many features into an RLT that would’ve made Jill’s painful experience MUCH easier.
Don’t entrust your assets to an amateur. As an Accredited Estate Planner and Super Lawyer in taxation, I have the knowledge needed to help you protect yourself and your family.
Contact me for more information.