A Guide to Wills, Trusts, and Estate Planning

will trust and estate planning

Making sure your estate is in order is a daunting task. With this guide, you will learn all the basics of wills, trusts, and estate planning, so that you can confidently make the best decisions for your future. Here, you will learn about the different types of wills and trusts available, how to set them up, what to look for in an attorney, and more. By the end of this guide, you’ll have a better understanding of the entire process and what steps you need to take for betterment. 

What is a will?

A will is a legal document that outlines how a person’s assets will be distributed upon death. The person who creates the will (known as the testator) can specify who will receive certain items and can designate people to act as guardians for any children. The will also typically appoints someone (known as the executor) to carry out the instructions in the will and ensure that all debts and taxes are paid before assets are distributed.

The will must be signed before witnesses, who can provide evidence of its validity if it is ever challenged. It is important to remember that each state has laws regarding wills, so it is best to consult a qualified attorney or another expert when creating a will.

What is estate planning?

Estate planning is anticipating and arranging for the management, conservation, and disposition of a person’s assets in the event of death or incapacity. An estate plan is an arrangement of documents and legal processes used to manage a person’s affairs before and after death. Estate planning typically involves creating a will or trust and arrangements for the power of attorney and healthcare decisions. 

Purpose of Estate Planning

The main purpose of estate planning is to ensure that your wishes are respected and carried out during and after your lifetime. It also enables you to distribute your assets according to your wishes while avoiding probate and taxes. Estate planning can help protect your heirs from probate court proceedings’ potential costs and burdens. 

Consider creating an estate planning

Creating an estate plan allows you to be prepared for any situation that may arise throughout your life. For instance, you can create an advance medical directive that outlines your wishes regarding healthcare decisions, such as end-of-life care. You can also use estate planning to designate who will manage your finances and decide for you if you become incapacitated. Additionally, estate planning can help reduce the financial burden on your family by allowing you to set up trusts and other instruments that can be used to transfer wealth to future generations. 

Overall, estate planning is important in ensuring that your wishes are respected and carried out in the event of death or incapacity. With a comprehensive estate plan, you can check that your property and assets hand over according to your wishes and those of your family.

Why do I need a will or trust?

Having wills and trusts in place is essential for better distribution of your assets and possessions to your heirs according to your wishes. However, it is necessary to get knowledge from a reputed law firm. For instance, Gastelum Law has good experience in wills and trusts Las Vegas, so in order to get any information on will distribution or n trusts, you must visit Jennifer Gastelum Law firm. 

  • Without a will or trust, state laws will determine the distribution of your assets and who gets your assets. Additionally, if you have minor children, you will want to appoint a guardian for them should something happen to you. 
  • A will or trust can also help avoid disputes among family members over who should get what.
  • A trust can provide additional benefits, such as protecting the assets from creditors and avoiding probate court. A trust can also provide tax savings by reducing estate taxes.

Setting up these documents now can save your loved one stress and hardship later on.

How do I create a will or trust?

Creating a will or trust is difficult, and it’s important to understand what is necessary. 

Determine Your Need

The first step is to determine whether you need a will or trust. A will is best for those who want to leave specific instructions about their estate. Trust is valuable when someone wants to maintain control of their assets, even after passing away. 

Create the Document

Once you’ve determined which type of document is right for you, it’s time to create the document itself. Generally, this involves gathering the necessary information and deciding how to distribute your estate. 

Consult With an Estate Planning Attorney

Depending on the complexity of your estate, you may need to consult with an estate planning attorney, trust lawyer, or financial advisor. This is for the proper completion of necessary legal documents.

After the completion of documentation, you must store it properly. You may also wish to inform your family or friends about its existence. 

What happens if I die without a will or trust?

If you die without a will or trust, your estate is subject to the laws of intestacy. Intestacy is a legal term used to describe the situation when someone dies without a valid will or trust. In this case, the law will determine the division and distribution of your estate. 

  • Under intestate succession laws, the surviving spouse (if any) is the primary beneficiary of your estate. If there is no surviving spouse, your estate will hand over to your closest relatives according to intestacy rules. These rules vary from state to state but generally involve your children, parents, siblings, and other family members. 
  • If there are no surviving family members, the state will take possession of all assets in the estate. This means you will simply distribute to those who you already choose for will. If this is not the case, then your real assets will distribute to trust.
  • Dying without a will or trust can also cause delays in the distribution of your estate. The court may take months or even years to settle your estate and distribute assets to heirs. Additionally, the cost of settling an intestate estate can be higher than if you had prepared a will or trust.
  • It’s important to remember that preparing a will or trust is not just about deciding who gets what. 

FAQs about wills, trusts, and estate planning

1. What is the difference between a will and a trust? 

A will is a legal document that outlines your wishes regarding the distribution of your estate after you pass away. A trust is a legal entity valuable to manage assets on behalf of someone else. Trusts are more complex than wills and provide more protection for the assets involved.

2. What happens if I don’t have a will or trust? 

If you die without a will or trust, your estate is subject to the laws of intestacy in your state. Your assets will surely distribute according to the state’s rules. These rules may not reflect your wishes. So it is important to create a valid will or trust before death.

3. How often should I update my will or trust? 

Reviewing and updating your will or trust regularly is important, as life circumstances can change over time. Additionally, if you acquire new assets or lose existing ones, the changes in will are must. Generally, you review your estate planning documents every five years or whenever major life events occur.