By Jeremy Beren / NewsBreak Pinal County, AZ
(Eloy, Ariz.) — Alpha Omega Family Services president Gene Adams is on the road again, and he's bringing the organization's free Living Trust seminars to Pinal County this month.
Adams and his wife, Judy, travel each year to six states — Arizona, California, Maryland, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia — to hold hour-long sessions that delve into the intricacies of trusts and estate planning, with an emphasis on presenting complex and even uncomfortable information in easily-digestible language.
"What we do is we educate people on how their family can avoid probate after they pass on," Adams told NewsBreak via phone. "(The seminars) eliminate the courts getting involved and taking time to settle the estate after somebody dies."
Nearly three decades' experience
Alpha Omega Family Services's Living Trust seminars began in 1996. Adams said that there are usually three or four of these sessions held per day, depending on the location and the time it takes to get from one venue to another. Adams estimates there have been roughly 25,000 seminars conducted in multiple states over that time, and he thinks he has personally held up to 8,000 Living Trust sessions.
Over nearly 27 years of holding these meetings, Adams told NewsBreak that the sessions have helped close to 50,000 people put together a trust — a binding legal agreement where one party (the grantor) gives another (the trustee) the right to hold and manage the grantor's assets, including property.
The seminars also inform attendees on how they or their loved ones can avoid seeing assets land in probate court. Probate is a process undertaken after someone dies that determines whether their will is valid and its requests can be administered. In probate court, a judge decides how a deceased person's assets are distributed, especially if these assets are highly valued or if the person who owned them died without a will.
"Each state is a little different with regards to probate, (but) the issue is a lot of people think that if they have a will, that will be adequate, (and) after they die their family will get the assets," Adams explained. "It is probably likely that they get the assets, unless somebody argued or fought over it ... When you do a properly-prepared living trust, the family has immediate access to these assets."
Streamlining the process
Adams said there is also an opportunity for attendees to learn about avoiding a capital gains tax, which is a tax levied on an investment after it is sold. Typically, these include stocks and real estate, and the rate changes based on how long this asset has been owned.
"Some people come into the seminars and say they're going to put their son's name on their house now, so they'll get (the house) when they die," Adams said. "But when they sell that house after you die, they're going to end up paying a capital gains tax ... A trust is a simple way of holding everything and making it easy to settle the estate after you die."
Alpha Omega's network can put an interested person in touch with an attorney or a trust specialist who will make the trip out to their home and complete the process.
"We've had people tell us they've been in probate for two or three years and their family still hasn't gotten the assets," Adams said. "Most of the people who come to the seminars are everyday people ... They have a home and some savings, and they want to make sure these are protected for their family."
Arizona will host 14 more Living Trust seminars this month, with several taking place in Eloy, Oracle, and Queen Creek. You can find more details and register to attend here.