Protecting your assets, your loved ones, and even yourself requires a well-thought out and comprehensive estate plan. A Last Will and Testament may initially serve as the foundation of that estate plan. At some point, however, you may choose to add a trust as your primary method of distributing estate assets or to accomplish additional estate planning goals. The Wills and trusts attorneys at Stivers Law are committed to help you create an estate plan that is tailored to your unique goals and objectives.
Do I Need a Will or Trust?
One of the most common misperceptions people have about estate planning in general is that it is not necessary unless you own substantial assets. Every adult should have at least a basic estate plan in place, meaning a Will or trust. Assets do not need to have a high monetary value to be valuable and without a Will or trust in place, the state intestate succession laws will decide how the assets you do own are distributed if you die unexpectedly. That typically means that only a spouse and/or close relatives will inherit from your estate. Nieces and nephews, lifelong friends, and charities that are close to your heart will receive nothing.
What Can I Accomplish with a Will or Trust?
The desire to avoid leaving behind an intestate estate (without a Will or trust) should be incentive enough to create a trust or execute a Will; however, both a Will and a trust can also help you accomplish additional estate planning goals.
When you draft your Will, for example, you decide who to appoint as your Executor. That person will be responsible for administering your estate after you are gone. Your Will is also the only official opportunity you have to nominate a legal guardian for your minor children in case one is ever needed.
A trust is frequently chosen as the primary method for distributing estate assets because trust assets are “non-probate” assets, meaning they can be distributed to beneficiaries shortly after your death instead of having to go through the often lengthy and costly legal process of probate. When you create a trust, you appoint a Trustee to oversee the trust assets which can be extremely beneficial to parents with minor children because children cannot inherit directly from an estate. That same trust can be used as an incapacity planning tool as well as to avoid leaving lump sum gifts to loved ones who may be unprepared to handle a large inheritance. Specialized trusts can even protect assets intended for a special needs beneficiary or serve as a general asset protection tool.
The Wills and trusts attorneys at Stivers Law can help you get started with your Last Will and Testament or trust agreement to ensure that you, your loved ones, and your assets are protected. Contact our office today by calling (305) 456-3255 or filling out our online contact form.