041In most cases, people wish to retain some control over what happens to their assets after they are gone. After all, you have worked hard and long for everything you have, and you should be able to determine where it all goes when you die. In order to make sure that your property and possessions are divided and distributed according to your wishes, you will need a Last Will and Testament, and/or a Trust. My legal expertise in Estate Planning can help you determine which is right for you. Here are a few ideas.


Probate Law Pages

What is a Last Will and Testament?

Your Last Will and Testament is a document that you will sign in front of witnesses, that determines where your assets will go, or how your property will be divided in the event of your death. You can revoke your Last Will and Testament, or change it at any time that you see fit until your death. In most cases, you can also appoint guardianship of your minor children in a Last Will and Testament.  A Last Will and Testaments may also instruct how taxes and debts should be paid, assign property managers for children’s property until they are grown, and name a Personal Representative to manage your estate. A Last Will and Testament cannot help you avoid probate, keep your privacy after your death, avoid a conservatorship, or offer tax savings, all of which a Trust can do.

What is a Revocable Living Trust?

A Revocable Living Trust is a way of managing your property during your lifetime and after your death. You give your trustee the right to hold on to your assets and distribute or manage them according to your wishes. If you are still alive, you can be your own trustee, with another named to take over in the event of your death. A trust can also be used when a beneficiary has specail medical needs, is too young to care for themselves or make their own decisions. Like a Last Will and Testament, a Revocable Living Trust can name beneficiaries, leave property to young children, and can be revised or revoked during your lifetime. A Trust can also help you avoid probate and keep your affairs private after death.

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What is an Irrevocable Trust?

There are many things to consider if you think you may require long-term medical government assistance, or have dependents with special needs. An Irrevocable Trust is a way to set aside assets to be used for items and services that the governmental benefits do not provide.  Unlike a “revocable” Trust, and “irrevocable” trust cannot be cancelled or revoked and may not be amended in some cases.  The Trustees cannot be the same as the Trustors and the Trustor does not have direct access to the assets Held in the Trust.

When you are considering your estate planning goals together with your budget, a Trust may be more expensive to set up than a Last Will and Testament; a Last Will and Testament is relatively affordable for anyone. Additionally, a Trust must also be actively managed while a Last Will and Testament does not need to be managed until after the death of the maker. An estate planning lawyer such as myself can help you decide which is best for you, your family, and your budget.