The primary goal of an estate plan is to create certainty and peace of mind in knowing how your affairs will be handled upon your death. Wills and trusts can be used in countless ways to develop an overall estate plan that fits your needs. No two estates are the same, so it is important to rely on an experienced attorney who understands these intricacies to craft an indiviualized plan.
A will is a legal document that allows you to direct how your property will be distributed upon your death. It is a simple and effective way to ensure that your money and property will be dispursed according to your wishes. A will may seem like a tool only needed by the wealthy, but that mindset may lead to unnecessary costs and expenses in the future. Even if you have nominal assets, a will may still be a valuable tool. For example, a will can provide an opportunity for parents to direct who will have the responsibility of caring for their children in case of their passing. This simple document can provide parents with a sense of security knowing that their children will be cared for and protected.
A trust can help manage the distribution of your assets. Trusts are created by an owner (also known as a grantor, donor or settlor) transferring property to another person or entity as a trustee. A trustee is often a professional, or relative or friend, with financial knowledge. There are also professional companies that can be hired to act as trustee. The trustee's role is to hold title and manage the property for the benefit of the beneficiaries, who may be a specific person, a group of people, or an organization.
Trusts can have a significant benefit for large and small estates. Trusts have a variety uses in developing an overall estate plan. For example, a trust could be used to create conditional gifts to heirs. Trusts can also be an extremely effective tool for estates with real estate in multiple states, as a way of avoiding probate and related expenses.
Health Care Directives and Powers of Attorney:
A health care directives give families and loved ones information about how an individual wishes to be treated if incapacitated, or unable, or unfit to make decisions. This lifts a huge burden for families and gives the individual the comfort in knowing their wishes will be followed.
A power of attorney gives someone the power to make decisions in case an individual is ever incapacitated. This is important because it ensures that the individual's affairs will be managed by a trustworthy person.