Last Will and Testament: The purpose of a Last Will and Testament is to direct the distribution of the assets of the estate to all the beneficiaries. A Will is subject to the Probate Proceeding, but can save your beneficiaries time, money and distress. In addition to your Will handling the disposition of your estate, if you have small children, your Will can nominate guardians for them “just in case”. By putting your desires for the disposition of your estate in writing, you can alleviate family tension and procure your desired outcome for the future.
Living Trust: A Living Trust is a legal entity established either by written agreement signed during the life of the person or by a Will. The trust is governed by the terms in the written document. Most living trusts are revocable, which means that items placed in a trust can be taken out of the trust. This type is taxed as part of the estate of the grantor. A Living Trust, like a Will, directs the distribution of the assets of the estate to all beneficiaries. However, unlike the Will, the Living Trust can be handled outside of the supervision of the courts. By creating a Living Trust, your beneficiaries can avoid the probate process, include the expenses and stress associated with it.
Whether a Last Will and Testament or a Living Trust is right for you and your family, one thing is for sure, having a plan is always better than no plan at all. Creating your estate plan is a lot like building a house. With no plan, you essentially have an empty lot. The first thing that needs to be done is to have a solid foundation. By meeting with our office, we can assist you in creating this foundation by deciding what you want your plan to do.
After the foundation is laid, the house needs to be built. This is done by having your estate planning documents put into place. Once the house is up, you are almost ready to move in, you just need to move in the furniture. This is the time when you fund your Living Trust by changing your assets by title to be owned by your Trust. At this point you can rest easy and enjoy the comfort of knowing you have planned for the future.
After some time has passed (typically 10 to 15 years) it is usually time for an addition or some minor repairs. Since your Living Trust is revocable, you can make changes to it as life changes. If you need to appoint new trustees, it is as easy as remodeling a bathroom. If your distribution does not sit quite right with you anymore, then a simple kitchen upgrade. The house is already built so making changes is a lot quicker and less expensive than building the house. Likewise, changes to your Living Trust can be made at any time by the creators of the Trust.