Do I need a Will?
John Bryant Tiburon Stinson TrustsIf you have children, you should have a Will. In a Will, you can name a guardian for your children. You will likely want to name your spouse as the guardian, but you will also need to name an alternate guardian in case both of you are not able to raise your children. You should choose an individual who you feel would best raise your children in your absence. You should discuss your choice with that individual or couple and make sure that he, she or they are willing to take on this responsibility. If the best person to raise your child is not financially sophisticated, you might consider having another person serve as Guardian of the Estate or Trustee, to work in conjunction with your child's guardian.

Why do I need a Trust?
There isn't just one reason that everyone should have a trust. Instead, Trusts are very flexible legal documents that can provide solutions to various problems or issues related to Estate Planning. Some of the reasons you may need a trust are as follows:

How do I avoid paying any Estate Taxes?
There isn't a magic answer or secret trick to avoid all estate tax. Plans that purport to escape all taxes usually have a catch attached or are subject to IRS scrutiny. However there are several planning opportunities that are specifically granted in the Internal Revenue Code, Regulations and Rulings. Some of the widely used opportunities are as follows:

It is true I can give $10,000 to my children tax free?
The $10,000 figure is the amount of money that an individual can give outright to another individual each year without being subject to the gift tax. This is a cumulative amount and it is measured on a calendar year basis. This means that if you write a check for $10,000 to your child in January of this year and give that same child a bicycle in December of the same year, the gift of the bicycle in subject to Gift Tax. The $10,000 is a deminimus amount so that you do not have to report to the IRS every gift that you make.

How can I provide for my spouse and still make sure my children from a prior marriage are still included?
By the use of a trust you can leave property for the benefit of your spouse for his or her life and then upon his or her death, the property can be distributed to your children or continued to be held in trust for their benefit. This is called a QTIP Trust (Qualified Terminable Interest Trust).

What should I be thinking about prior to meeting with an Estate Planning Attorney?
Listed below are some of the basic issues that you should consider. But do not get hung up on a particular issue, a qualified estate planning attorney should be able to assist you in working through particular questions and issues.