A Last Will & Testament is a legal document that sets forth how you wish to distribute assets after your death. It also can answer other important questions, such as who will be designated as the guardian of your children.
Who Needs a Will?
Everyone! But if one or more of the following statements applies to you, it’s a particularly good time to think about getting and/or updating a will:
- You’re planning to travel.
- You have minor children.
- You participate in activities that could result in a serious injury, such as skydiving, rock climbing, SCUBA diving, parasailing, etc.
- You’re recently divorced, separated, or widowed.
- You’ve been diagnosed with a serious condition or disease, such as MS, ALS, or cancer.
- Dementia and/or Alzheimer’s runs in your family (do not wait until you’ve been diagnosed).
- You have changed your mind about who should inherit your assets (and how they will get them).
- You found a will on the internet.
- The Personal Representative named in your original will is no longer available.
- You currently don’t have a will.
A trust is a legal entity that holds the title to a specific piece (or pieces) of property. For example, instead of listing your own name as the owner of your home, you could create a trust and list it as the owner. There are several types of trusts:
Revocable living trusts are trusts you create while you’re alive, so you have full control of the property in the trust for the rest of your life. You manage the trust while you are alive and capable, and you designate a trustee to administer your estate after your death.
Testamentary trusts are created upon your death. These are great ways to control your assets long after you’re gone.
Irrevocable trusts are ideal for Medicaid planning and tax strategies.
Why Create a Trust?
There are several advantages to trusts. No court intervention or supervision is required, and they can provide the following benefits:
- Asset protection for your spouse after your death.
- Special-needs planning for disabled beneficiaries.
- Asset management and protection for children who have issues with budgets and money management.
- Protection of assets if your spouse remarries after your death.
- Disability planning in case you become disabled prior to death.
- Asset protection for your children to ensure your assets don’t go to the in-laws if your children get divorced.
- Privacy (as opposed to probate, which is public).
- Planning for proper management of your business in your absence.
As you can see, there’s much more to effective estate planning than you’ll find online or through a pre-packaged service. At Bender Law, we care about meeting your unique needs, not about selling another plan as soon as possible. We work with you to customize an estate plan that works for you.