Planning for end-of-life can be difficult for a family, especially when there is no urgency to act quickly. That, however, is the right time to think about these things, and a good place to start is with a Will.
In simple legal terms a Will, often called the Last Will and Testament, is a document in which a person, the testator, details how his or her real and personal property are to be disposed of at end-of-life. Without a Will, or intestate, the distribution of the property of the deceased is determined by a court in accordance with the prevailing laws.
Even with a Will, however, the estate must still go through Probate. Combining a Will with a Trust can simplify or avoid Probate and insures that the wishes of the deceased are carried out.
A well thought out will, drafted by an experienced attorney, provides peace of mind when it is needed most.
Whether you have a vast estate or something more modest, the ability to avoid probate and insure your wishes are followed at end-of-life, are two very good reasons to set up a trust.
The popular living trust, sometimes known as a revocable trust, does this. Assets are transferred into the trust by the grantor, who can also be the trustee, or that role can be assigned depending on how the trust is set up. Beneficiaries are named and the assets pass to them at end-of-life without the expense of going through probate.
Frequently, a testamentary trust is included in a Will and becomes effective upon the death of the grantor. This type of trust, however, does not avoid probate.There are other types of trusts that can be set up depending on individual needs. No matter how complex or basic, the trust document requires careful thought and planning with the assistance of an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer.