Formal Wills & Trusts

Formal Wills & Trusts

Important Estate Planning

Elvis died without a will, and so did Prince. Aretha Franklin left no formal will or trust, and now her heirs are fighting over some handwritten documents that may or not meet the legal standards of a will.  A will or trust, as part of an estate plan, can avoid all of this hassle when a loved one passes away. We don’t like to discuss our demise, yet death and taxes are inevitable.

A will is a basic document that spells out your wishes in the event of your death. It lists who your heirs are and what they are to receive from your estate. You can have a list of specific bequests such as leaving money to charity, specify certain items of jewelry or antiques to go to whoever you designate, and name a personal representative who will handle your estate as it goes through probate. A will does not eliminate the need for going through the probate court - it must be in writing and witnessed. It is a good idea to have an attorney who is knowledgeable in the area of elder law prepare your will.

A trust is more complicated than a will. With a trust you are leaving all or some of your estate in trust to be used for specific purposes. If there are children or grandchildren who are young, you may not want them to have access to large sums of money. A trust can designate that the trustee who is in charge of your estate only give certain sums of money or percentages of your estate for specific time periods to beneficiaries - perhaps a percentage at age 25, some at age 30, and the rest at age 35. You can designate that money be used for college, for a home, or some other specific purpose. You can have spendthrift provisions to protect an heir from creditors. Your trustee who handles your estate can be a close family member or friend. An attorney or a member of a financial institution can handle your financial affairs. Trusts can also be useful regarding tax planning and is a beneficial device to protect you, your estate and your loved ones. It is critical that you consult with a knowledgeable elder law attorney regarding estate planning, wills and trusts. There is too much is at stake to do otherwise.

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