There is a common saying in the legal profession that if you have one dollar and two relatives that you need to consider estate planning. The most common methods involve wills and trusts. The following addresses common questions that we get from clients as they start the estate planning process, such as:
What Is a Will?
A will is a formal legal document that outlines your wishes for how your property should be distributed upon your death. Wills may also address who will be responsible for caring for your minor children in the event of your death. Typically, a will is a formal document that is signed by you in the presence of witnesses. Some jurisdictions will recognize a handwritten will made outside the presence of witnesses; however, the validity of this type of will may not hold up if challenged in court.
What Is a Trust?
A trust differs from a will in that it goes into effect immediately upon its creation and allows you to distribute property before, at, or after your death. A trustee, usually a trusted individual or an institution, holds the legal title to the property on behalf of the named beneficiary. The beneficiary will receive income from the trust during their life or upon meeting certain criteria, such as reaching a specified age. A secondary beneficiary is also normally named to receive any remaining proceeds from the trust upon the death of the primary beneficiary.
When Do I Need a Will?
Virtually everyone needs a will. If you die without a will, the state will determine how your assets are distributed according to a statutory formula. The state would also determine guardianship of any minor children. This can create hardships for surviving family members and open the door for protracted legal battles in the event of a family disagreement.
Virtually everyone needs a will. If you die without a will, the state will determine how your assets are distributed according to a statutory formula. The state would also determine guardianship of any minor children.
When Do I Need a Living Will?
A living will, sometimes referred to as an advanced directive, specifies the type of life-sustaining medical care that you would want to receive in the event that you at not able to communicate your wishes. Through this document, you can let your family know if you wish to have your life prolonged through tube feeding, assisted breathing, or other measures. Although normally considered by individuals facing terminal illnesses, every adult should consider having a living will so that family members and health care providers will know your wishes in the event of an unexpected life-threatening injury or illness.
Should I Get a Living Trust?
A living trust is a good option if you do not want your property to have to go through the probate process when you die. Trusts are also much more difficult to challenge than wills. If you have considerable assets, a revocable living trust may also help you avoid or reduce the estate tax liability for your heirs.
Where Can I Get a Will Notarized?
Most banks, law offices, and courthouses have notaries on site.
How Do I Obtain a Will or Trust?
To ensure that your will or trust meets all of the legal requirements for the jurisdiction where you live, it is best to enlist the services of a legal professional. Contact Platinum Paralegals today to find out more about our estate planning services.