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What do I need from an estate attorney?

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  • #16





    When we met our estate planning attorney, we learned that in our state, any real estate that goes through probate cannot be sold for 1 year 
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    i saw this first hand with my SIL estate.. sooooooo painful to watch her estate drain in expenses for the home and probate fees. obviously there is no guarantee when a home will sell even outside of probate, but just knowing there was nothing we could do was frustrating….
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    Yes, and unfortunately most of us have to make a decision on a lawyer for probate under the stress of dealing with the loss so it is hard to evaluate the total costs in advance. We were very fortunate to get a recommendation from a friend who had just settled. This particular lawyer was willing to let us do what we could and stick to advice and court filings. Gave us a lot of control and greatly reduced cost. (Of course, you have to be there and be willing to give up the time.) I already have a agreement with him to do the same for our kids if they have to probate our estate.

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    • #17


      i saw this first hand with my SIL estate.. sooooooo painful to watch her estate drain in expenses for the home and probate fees. obviously there is no guarantee when a home will sell even outside of probate, but just knowing there was nothing we could do was frustrating….
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      Same here - would you mind sharing what state you are referring to? (I already know NY laws are draconian.)
      Working to protect good doctors from bad advisors. Fox & Co CPAs, Fox & Co Wealth Mgmt. 270-247-6087

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      • #18
        Being a physician who has been sued for malpractice-I focus strongly on asset protection issues and the interface with estate planning when we make referrals to estate planning attorneys for our financial planning clients.   As with physicians, there is a large variety of quality out there when it comes to picking a good estate planning attorney.  We have found several locally who seemingly have almost no knowledge of state laws when it comes to asset protection, and who have made bad recommendations.  So, if possible, get a recommendation from a good financial planner when looking for an attorney-or have the attorney's recommendations reviewed by a good planner.

        Two mistakes we see over and over:

        1) Splitting jointly held assets into solely owned accounts to maximize estate tax exclusions.  This obviates the protection of "tenants by the entireties" ownership.  Although this is less common in the age of portability-we have seen it as recently as 2-3 years ago-and it exists in many old documents.

        2) Mandatory distributions of trust assets to children based on age.   Typically, something like "1/3rd of the trust principal at age 30, 1/3rd at age 35, and the balance at age 40."  This is almost universal in trust documents we review and we argue on almost every one that this opens inheritances to marital, business, and accident creditors.  Instead, we usually recommend "friendly trustees" with full discretion to make distributions throughout the heir's lifetime-but also the ability to deny creditors access to funds.

        Like Johanna Fox,  I find it disturbing that anyone would rely on this forum for what is potentially life altering advice however.

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        • #19
          To be fair to the OP, I don’t think he intended to rely on the forum for any decisions. That is, he appeared to be asking how to make the most of an interview that his wife had already set up with an attorney.

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          • #20
            @Johanna,
            Just a google question:
            If a house is TBE, no divorce, and OP was planning to sell in a few years , would he have protected the asset?
            I would definitely think the possibility of only having possession and not being to sell is a huge impairment of an asset. I don’t know or care. It would basically grant possession and delay payment. IF that is the result.
            Life is complicated. I live in a community property state, so never looked.
            If I was able to use QBE and my spouse and I went to sell and all the proceeds were going to an old lien, .... I doubt my spouse would smile and say “great plan, too bad it didn’t work”. IF QBE impairs a sale, protection with a potential loss of liquidity would be the choice. Just as titling in spouses name is a qualified benefit, but the downside event is divorce.
            I support divorce has a higher probability. “Superior” is in the eyes of the beholder. Simply saying divorce protection may be different than asset protection.
            I would have a hard time recommending one over the other. Pluses/minuses and costs . Just saying know what your buying. Appreciate all of Johanna’s knowledge. I used google.

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            • #21




              To be fair to the OP, I don’t think he intended to rely on the forum for any decisions. That is, he appeared to be asking how to make the most of an interview that his wife had already set up with an attorney.
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              Very good point - we sometimes tend to stray. I think the consensus at this point is that, for asset protection purposes, an estate planning attorney may not be the best place to start, but it the attorney may very well be able to handle the asset protection needs, too, as they somewhat overlap. As for questions, s/he should ask questions about how assets should be titled, is there any need for a trust at this point, if not, at what point, and how often the attorney recommends updating. The OP should also have a sufficient umbrella policy in place, but that may be a better question for their financial planner.
              Working to protect good doctors from bad advisors. Fox & Co CPAs, Fox & Co Wealth Mgmt. 270-247-6087

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              • #22


                would you mind sharing what state you are referring to
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                CT.   strangely they claim they are somewhat efficient....until you witness it live and in action.  and both my FIL and SIL took a year......

                and my FIL estate attorney (who did most of the affluent town's work)...ended up in jail....shady......

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                • #23










                   

                  All those things can be passed to a beneficiary without a living trust or going through probate. Make sure the accounts have appropriately named beneficiaries and title the house appropriately.
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                  Not necessarily. When we met our estate planning attorney, we learned that in our state, any real estate that goes through probate cannot be sold for 1 year! Whereas if it goes to a beneficiary via a trust it can be sold right away. Heaven forbid both my husband and I die, I think paying for the trust is more than worth it for the amount of time and hassle it would be for my sister to deal with our house for an entire year before selling. This is why you meet with a professional who is local- so you learn these things
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                  Do you mind sharing what state that is? I’ve never heard of that, either (certainly not doubting it) and I try to keep track of which states are recommended for RLTs and which have simple pass-through and RLTs are (typically) not worth the added time and expense.
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                  Virginia

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