Every adult should have an estate plan. Whether your planning needs are simple or extremely complex, you need a plan that is customized to your assets, your family structure and your goals.
Whether you choose to have a Will or a Living Trust, both provide for the distribution of your estate upon your death. Deciding which fits your needs depends on your specific circumstances.
A Will is a legal document that allows you to choose your beneficiaries and leave them specific items from your estate. You will need to designate an executor to carry out your wishes. In addition, it gives you the chance to nominate a guardian if you have minor children. It is subject to probate and comes into effect upon your death.
As for costs to prepare, a Will costs less than a Trust; however, costs to probate a Will can be substantial.
Even though a Will comes into play upon your death, a Living Trust can start benefiting you while you are still alive. It allows you to transfer substantially all of your property into your Trust during your lifetime and it is revocable, which means you can make changes. It will be used to manage your property before and after your death, as well as provide how your assets will be distributed after your death. If you become disabled or incapacitated, the Trust is in place to manage your financial affairs. A great benefit is that it is not subject to probate and all provisions will remain private.
As for costs to prepare, fund and manage, a Living Trust costs more than a Will; however, it avoids probate costs if all assets were held by the Trust.
If you die without a Will or Living Trust, your estate will be handled and your assets distributed by the court – probably to your spouse or closest heirs. This may or may not be what you wanted.
Estate planning involves difficult decisions about your personal matters. It demands individualized solutions for your objectives.
Whether you’re just beginning the estate planning process, or you need to update an existing plan, contact the Orange County Family Law offices of Holstrom, Block & Parke because we take pride in providing experienced counsel with excellent service in determining the right estate planning tools for your family.