The Hidden Pitfalls of Relying Solely on a Will for Your Estate Planning
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I highly recommend Arma for her professionalism and expertise in estate planning. Her peace of mind session was packed with very useful information to help make the best decision possible. If you need a will, trust or anything to get your affairs in order for you and your loved once, I would talk to her.
Arma helped me with drafting some legal documents and I cannot thank her enough for such a great seamless service. She is very professional, thoughtful and easy to communicate with. She is precise, accurate and on top of her game. I strongly recommend her for your legal needs.
Arma has been amazing. She put my mind at ease and helped secure my assets. It was a smooth and easy process.
I would highly recommend Estate Armor for your estate planning needs! I initially chose to work with Arma because she provided comprehensive packages at a flat rate which included all my choices and everything I needed! I liked that she doesn’t charge per hour. During the process, I also really appreciated that Arma took time to answer all my questions and made everything simple and understandable. Highly recommend!
Great Attorney. Very patient with us and explained everything we needed to know about trusts.
I love sending TX estate planning clients to Arma. Arma goes above and beyond to get it all done, and she is highly personable which makes working with her so easy. She is a knowledgeable, wonderful, and compassionate attorney to have in your corner!
Working with Arma Fitzgerald for my estate planning needs was a truly exceptional experience. Her expertise, clear communication, and attention to detail instilled confidence in every decision I made. Arma's genuine care and warm demeanor made the process stress-free, and I highly recommend her to anyone seeking a top-notch estate planning attorney. Five stars all the way!
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* Schedule a Peace of Mind Planning Session for our Comprehensive Protective Trust Package.
* SMU & UNT parents, don't forget to claim your special discount during this limited-time offer.
During our 60-minute Zoom, I will commit the following to you:
Join estate planning attorney Arma Fitzgerald with Estate Armor for this live event for busy parents. You will discover:
Here are some of the commonly asked questions about Estate Planning:
* The first step is to attend your Peace of Mind Planning Session. You’ll fill out a secure online questionnaire (“Family Profile”) before we meet so we can make the best use of our time together. At this Zoom session, you’ll learn all about your options and our flat fees. When you are ready to move forward, we’ll email you an engagement letter and invoice, both of which can be executed online.
* Next is your Estate Plan Design Meeting. We’ll roll up our sleeves and design your trust and other estate planning documents, working off the information you provided in your Family Profile. After this session, I’ll draft your documents and send a copy for your review about two weeks later. We’ll then make any changes or updates you’d like to make. When everything is good to go, we’ll coordinate an in-person Signing Ceremony.
*Your Signing Ceremony is where you’ll sign your documents with the proper legal formalities in front of two witnesses and a notary. We can have this session at our local office. Following the execution of the documents, we are available for free, unlimited lifetime consultations regarding your estate plan.
Just click to book a Peace of Mind Planning Session or attend a monthly Estate Planning Workshop (perfect for busy parents). Then when you are ready to move forward, we’ll send you an engagement letter via DocuSign and an invoice via our secure online payment provider, LawPay. Once these items are taken care of, we’ll schedule your Estate Plan Design Meeting.
Yes! I am happy to have a quick, complimentary call before you schedule your Peace of Mind Planning Session. We do not discuss fees outside the Peace of Mind Planning Session, but I am happy to answer any basic questions you may have.
We do NOT need account statements, social security numbers, or tax returns.
We DO need information on assets you own (house, retirement account, life insurance, etc.), their relative value, and how they are titled (jointly, individually, etc.).
Beyond that, we simply need answers to questions about your personal estate planning preferences, including:
* Who would you want raising your minor children if something happened to you and your spouse or partner
* Who would you want to be in charge of your children’s money until they are old enough to mange it themselves
* Who would you want to make medical and financial decisions for you in the event of your incapacity
Don’t worry if you don’t have the answers to these questions immediately. You’ll have plenty of time to think things over throughout the process.
Estate planning is simply the process of getting legal documents in place so that your chosen individuals are appointed to take care of you, your children, your assets, and your finances in the event of death or incapacity. The process also involves naming the people you want to inherit your assets when you are gone. An “estate plan” is simply a bundle of all the documents needed to accomplish these objectives.
If you don’t have a will or trust, you may think you don’t have an estate plan….but you do. It’s just that the state you live in has written it for you! All states have a default plan for your family and assets in the event of your incapacity or death. That’s the plan you have now. Estate planning is “opting out” of the default plan and putting your own wishes in place.
Estate planning is not one size fits all, so it’s difficult for us to recommend a package and price without knowing more about you. Even if you believe your situation is relatively simple, there may be nuances you are not considering. We discuss our packages/costs in the Peace of Mind Planning Session after we have counseled you on all your options.
We understand that cost is an important factor in choosing an attorney and that estate planning is a significant investment for many. It is our goal to be as transparent and fair as possible. For that reason, we offer flat fees as opposed to billing by the hour, so you know exactly what your investment will be. We also offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you are unhappy with our services, we will make it right or refund your money.
Finally, we will only recommend planning with us if the amount you save by doing an estate plan exceeds than our fee.
Our process is designed to have your estate planning documents signed within 6-8 weeks of your Peace of Mind Planning Session. It depends in part on your schedule and how long it takes for you to review your draft documents.
No. Wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents must be signed with very specific formalities, or they will not be considered legally valid. That means signing in person, in front of 2 witnesses and a notary (which we provide). The witnesses are there to confirm you are lucid and not under duress, and the notary is there to confirm legal identity. Any changes you make to your documents in the future will need to be executed with the same legal formalities.
You have two options with your estate planning: a will-based or living trust-based plan.
The vast majority of clients choose a living trust. A living trust is a document where you appoint a chosen individual to manage your assets should you become incapacitated and distribute them to your family at your death. It is almost always preferable to a will because it is designed to avoid the time, expense, and publicity of probate, which a will cannot avoid.
It comes as a surprise to many of my clients that wills do not avoid probate court… they guarantee it!
I thoroughly review the difference between a will and a living trust during the Peace of Mind Planning Session. The most common question I get at the end of this session is, “Why would anybody ever do a will?” Ultimately, however, the decision is yours.
Estate planning is an area of law that is state-specific. That means you should work with an attorney licensed in the state in which you reside. We are licensed in Texas, New Mexico, New York, Illinois, and Washington, D.C. If you live in one of those states, we can prepare your estate planning documents. If you do not, message us, and we will gladly refer you to an attorney licensed in your state.
However, if you are a business owner, we can work with you no matter where you live. We work with businesses in all 50 states, and worldwide. We helped them with LLC formation, trademarks, Copyright, contracts, website legal notices, and more.
Probate is the court-supervised process of administering your estate upon your death. If you die WITHOUT a will, your estate must go through probate before all your assets can be distributed to your heirs. And if you die WITH a will… your estate still has to go through probate! The only way to avoid probate is with a revocable living trust.
What’s so bad about probate? Even a simple probate can take years to complete and eats up as much as 7% of the estate assets in the meantime. It’s also a public proceeding that makes your will available to anybody who wants to look at it.
While a will is subject to the probate process, a living trust is designed to bypass probate completely.
Regrettably, even a simple will is still subject to the expense and delays of probate. It’s not the complexity of the document itself that cause the time and expense, it’s the probate process itself. For this reason, most clients choose to create a living trust instead of a will, which is designed for simplicity of execution and to avoid the probate process completely.
However, as part of an overall, comprehensive estate plan, a special “pour-over” will is used to appoint guardians for any minor children alive at your death.
You can. Keep in mind that Legal Zoom and law firms are two different things. They provide two different services. This is why the cost is different. Legal Zoom offers form documents you fill out and execute yourself. They are not a law firm and do not give legal advice. An attorney, on the other hand, counsels you and gives you legal advice based on your specific circumstances. They will customize your documents, ensure they are signed with the proper formalities, and pick up the phone when you call with questions. If these things are important to you, you should work with an attorney. If they are not, Legal Zoom may be a better option. Also be sure to educate yourself on the requirements, eventual costs, and pitfalls of probate.
No. This is a common misconception. Estate planning is in no way related to how much money you have, whether you are a married, or whether or not you are a parent.
Estate planning is putting legal documents in place that ensure your assets will go to the people you want, the way you want, when you are gone. It is about making this process as easy as possible on your loved ones during an otherwise difficult time. And we all care about that, no matter how much or little money we have.
It is also about appointing people to manage your property and make health care decisions for you if you become incapacitated, something that matters to all of us regardless of wealth status.
A power of attorney lets you appoint someone to manage your property in the event of your incapacity. You will name someone you trust implicitly as your “agent”. They will step into your shoes and pay your bills, file your taxes, manage your business, etc. if you cannot.
We include a power of attorney for both spouses in every estate plan we create.
A health care proxy allows you to appoint someone you trust to manage your medical decisions should you be unable to do so. A living will (not to be confused with a living trust or last will and testament) allows you to make certain medical decisions regarding end-of-life decisions, ahead of time.
We include a health care proxy and living will for both spouses in every estate plan we create.
Not a problem. A living trust can be changed or revoked entirely as long as the creator is alive and has mental capacity to do so. Any guardians for minor children can also be changed through an amendment (called a “codicil”) to your pour-over will.
All other estate planning documents (power of attorney, health care proxy, etc.) are typically recreated as it is more cost-effective.
The main point is that your documents can (and probably will be) updated as your life, your assets, and the law all change.
Yes! In some ways, you need estate planning MORE than married folks. Many non-married individuals want to leave their money to charities and friends, not their closest living relative. Unfortunately, if you die without getting this in writing, your estate could end up in the hands of that distant cousin you’ve met twice. And it’s important for everyone to have a Health Care Proxy and Financial Power of Attorney.
Great question! I have yet to meet a parent who actually wants their kids to inherit a big lump sum on their 18th birthday (which is the age you are legally entitled to inherit). Yet that is exactly what will happen if you don’t get an estate plan saying otherwise. The good news is that with a trust, you can choose a later age for your kids to inherit – say 25, or 30. You have lots of options. We’ll discuss them at your Peace of Mind Planning Session.
You nominate legal guardians in a Will, or a Pour-Over Will that goes along with your Revocable Living Trust. If you pass away without nominating guardians, a judge will make the decision for you. You also run the risk that family members will fight over who gets custody because you didn’t make your preference clear.
Our firm goes the extra mile and helps you nominate short-term guardians to care for your children in the interim while the long-term guardians are appointed. And did you know you can “confidentially exclude” people you would never want raising your children no matter what? We can help with that!