Writing wills and trusts are a crucial part of an end-of-life plan, and help ensure that an individual’s final wishes in regards to their property and assets are carried out. Enlisting professional legal assistance is essential to draft foolproof, legally air-tight documents. This prevents any complicated grey areas in legal forms improperly drawn up, resulting in unfortunate misinterpretation of a person’s final intentions and extra costs.
Wills Vs. Trusts
A Last Will and Testament, or will, is a documented plan detailing how someone wants their possessions to be divided and distributed once they pass on. A will can be the sole estate planning document or work in conjunction with a trust. Ideally, a trust handles the high-value assets, while a will is for divvying up smaller possessions like jewelry, laying out funeral plans, handling post-death debts and taxes, and appointing legal guardians for minors in the case of a parent’s death.
If a deceased person only had a will and no trust, the will must be filed publicly with the court and serve as the instructions for the proceedings in probate court. Probate court functions as the final legal verification of the legitimacy and admissibility of a will. If found to be legally sound, the court officially acknowledges and distributes assets as laid out in the document, though the process usually takes about a year. Probate court always comes at some cost and can be pretty time-consuming.
There are different forms of trusts, but the most common is a living revocable trust, which is in effect during the original trustee’s lifetime and can be changed whenever needed during their lifetime. The initial trustee simply transfers their desired, high-value assets under the trust and appoints a successor trustee to take over management and distribution when the former becomes incapacitated or passes on. No court approval is needed with this type of trust, and all remain private. Trusts are usually more expensive and complicated to set up, but save loved ones and beneficiaries significant time and money.
Work With Local Estate Planning Attorney to Write Wills and Trusts
When drawing up an estate plan and formally communicating one’s wishes after death, there is much to consider. As there are many potentially deceptive loopholes and technicalities in transferring possessions to beneficiaries, the guidance of a reputable estate planning attorney is essential for smooth execution and peace of mind for both beneficiaries and the individual passing on the assets.