Do I really need a will?
Yes! If you are over the age of 18 or in the military, you need a will. If something happens to you and you don't have one, several problems may arise. Dying without a will risks that the property will not be inherited as the decedent wished, and may also tie up assets for an undetermined amount of time while family members wait for court proceedings to sort out how the property should be distributed. Many times people (especially young people) think that because they don't have much stuff, they don't need a will. Nothing could be further from the truth.
What is a trust?
A trust is a method by which property is held by one party (the trustee) for the benefit of another (the beneficiary). To establish a trust, the testator, through his or her will, transfers property with the specific intent to create a trust, to the trustee who manages and administers the property for the benefit of named beneficiaries. A testamentary trust arises under a will and becomes effective when the testator dies. A trust is an effective way of managing property for the benefit of minor or incapacitated persons or persons who are incapable of managing their own financial affairs.
Should I use a trust?
There are several times when a trust should be included in your estate plan. For example, if you have minor children a trust is a necessity because the law will not allow a child to inherit property, including money. If you don't set up a trust for your child and something happens to you, the court will make your executor set up a trust for your child. This can quickly become time consuming and expensive - diverting your funds away from your children and into the court's and attorneys' pockets. Another time you would want to use a trust is if you don't think one of your loved ones is responsible enough to manage his or her money if there was a sudden windfall. A trust allows you to designate when and how those funds are dispersed. Additionally, a trust can help maintain privacy during the probate process because trust assets are generally not included in probate.
What kind of trust should I use?
There are many different kinds of trusts available, each designed to meet a particular need or goal. The type of trust you should use depends on your personal needs, whether they are providing for a loved one with special needs, ensuring your young children are provided for, or financing your grandchildren's education. Trusts can also provide asset protection, tax planning, and more. Set up an appointment today so we can discuss whether and what type of trust is right for you and your particular circumstances.
Will my loved ones be responsible for my debts?
Generally, no. And, with proper planning, many of your assets and belongings can be passed to your loved ones without creditors being able to get ahold of them.
My loved one just passed. Now what do I do?
Upon death, title to the decedent's property passes immediately to the beneficiaries under the decedent's will or to the heirs-at-law if the decedent died without a will. However, there must be an actual transfer of ownership of the property by proving the will in court or, if there is no will, by having a court determine who are the decedent's heirs. The purpose of court involvement is to protect the rights of the family, those entitled to receive property, and the creditors of the decedent's estate. Navigating the probate process after you've lost a loved one can be a painful and confusing process. Please let me help you through this process.
DISCLAIMER: The content on this website is not intended to be legal advice and does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Consult with a licensed attorney to determine the appropriate course of action for your needs.