Estate planning is for everyone, not just the wealthy or the aging. Anyone can become disabled at any time. One of the most important steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones is to establish an estate plan. A well-designed estate plan provide for loved ones, including minor children or aging parents, provide for incapacity, avoid probate at death, reduce or avoid estate taxes, and provide for charitable organizations.
I meet with individuals and families to review their personal and financial situation, including their needs, concerns, hopes and goals, and explain the options available to them based on their situation. This may include wills, trusts, powers of attorney, advance medical directives, or a combination of these, depending on client needs and goals. Once their estate plan is in place, my client’s enjoy peace of mind knowing they have provided for themselves and their loved ones in case an unexpected crisis occurs.
Pet trusts are for clients who wish to provide for their beloved non-human family members, and are not just for the rich and eccentric. They are for any pet owner who wishes to ensure the proper care and treatment of their much-loved pet should the owner become disabled or pass away. Giving away a pet to a friend or family member does not always accomplish this goal. I work with clients to design the best estate planning method based on the client’s goals, their pet’s needs and the client’s financial resources.
At Legacy Life Plan, LLC, we bring the law to your corner. We are dedicated to understanding what results you want and to helping you understand what actions we can take on your behalf. We will work with you every step of the way to make sure that you understand the choices you are making and feel empowered to make them.
A will is a document where you say who gets what and who is in charge of making that happen. Someone named in a will to receive your assets is called an heir or beneficiary, and the person put in charge of making that happen is called a personal representative or an executor. It's important to note though that wills do not apply to assets where you have a surviving joint owner of that asset or to assets where you have a living beneficiary designated. For example, on retirement accounts and life insurance, if you have spouse named and then your children, then that asset will be payable directly to the living beneficiary who's named separate from that a will says. If you have a will, and a will is really critical for your estate plan, you need to make sure that it's in sync with everything owned jointly and also everything where you have a beneficiary named to make sure it all is working together according to your wishes.
Also, for any property passing under will, it's important to note that that will has to be filed with a probate court and reviewed and approved before anyone named in the will, the personal representative can act on your behalf, gather your assets, pay any creditors who might be owed money, and then ultimately distribute the assets to your heirs. A will is a document that does have to go through probate, which is actually a common myth that we run across. People think that a will is a magical document that covers every estate planning scenario, and it doesn't. It's critical and you need it, but you need to make sure that you understand it goes through probate before it is effective, and that is a will. Add an answer to this item.
So think of a trust as a will-substitute. A will says who gets what, under what circumstances, and who's in charge of making that happen. A trust does the same thing.
The critical difference between a will and a trust is that a will has to be filed with a probate court and reviewed and approved before anyone can act under it or receive any assets from your estate. So everything filed in the probate court, including the will, becomes a public record, and, as you might imagine, it takes time to go through a public court proceeding.
A trust, on the other hand, is a completely private document. No one's entitled to see it except those who are named in it, and the successor trustee named in your trust can act immediately, without having to go to court, file anything, or get permission first. So a trust is a totally private document that can be more immediate and efficient upon someone's passing, whereas a will is a public document once it's filed with the court, and the court has to review and approve it before anyone can act under it.
So a will and a trust are similar in terms of what they're trying to achieve, but they just go through a different process down the road when someone actually needs to act. A trust is more efficient and private, a will takes a little bit longer and is public.