FAQ: Estate Planning
What is a family trust?
A family trust is set up to benefit a surviving spouse and children. It typically
holds any federal estate tax applicable exclusion amount.
What is a marital trust?
A marital trust typically holds whatever assets that don’t fit in the family trust.
The only beneficiary of a marital trust is a surviving spouse. The marital trust
delays any applicable federal estate tax.
How do I find an estate planning attorney?
Ask your other professional advisors for a referral to an attorney who focuses his
practice on estate planning.
Check out estate planning attorneys’ websites, read their blogs, and attend any
offered estate planning seminars (sponsored by attorneys.)
Ask your friends who they use for their own estate planning.
I just have a will. What else do I need?
A will is a good start and you should know that you are ahead of half the people in
the United States. However, you should have your will reviewed by a qualified
estate planning attorney to make sure that it will do what you want it to do.
A comprehensive estate plan includes a will, powers of attorney (several kinds),
living will, HIPAA release, organ donation form, and revocable living trust.
How would you describe the different kinds of powers of attorney?
A medical power of attorney authorizes a health care agent to make medical
decisions on your behalf if you are not able to make those decisions yourself.
A financial power of attorney authorizes an agent to manage your assets and day to
day business affairs. It is usually effective immediately. If you don’t want it
effective until it’s needed, you can execute a “springing” power of attorney. It
“springs” to life upon your disability.
A child care power of attorney authorizes an agent to make medical, school, and
other decisions for your child and have custody of your child. It is effective if you
are alive but disabled and unable to care for your children.
Other powers of attorney for a particular purpose would be for a real estate closing,
business deal, or funding your revocable living trust.
If you have additional questions about estate planning, consult with a qualified
estate planning attorney.
Experienced estate planning attorneys Mobile AL of the Ryan Hicks Cumpton &
Cumpton LLP offers estate planning and business planning resources to residents
of Mobile AL. To learn more about these free resources, please visit