No matter your age or your status in life, you absolutely must have a plan for your estate. Wills, trusts and powers of attorney are tools that you can put in place now to ensure that your loved ones don’t have additional burdens later. The unfortunate effect of death is that, often times, people fail to make their last wishes known and, therefore, leave their loved ones with the challenge of decoding the tea leaves. Attorney Hall is skilled in the areas of estate planning. Schedule a consult with her today to discuss your estate planning. It’s never too soon and it’s never too late!
A Will is Just a “Wish”. . .
There is a common misperception that having a will is all that is necessary to ensure that your estate planning is in order. Unfortunately, it is usually at the time of a loved one’s death, that one realizes how insufficient a will can be. The most common example of this is when a loved one leaves real estate in a will because a will is very useful when gifting cash and personal property and virutally useless when gifting real property – the reason for this is because a will cannot transfer title (which is the standard proof of ownership). So, if your grandmother leaves only a will and the will reflects her “wish” that you have her house, the will is ineffective in that you may live in the house but you don’t legally own the house. Therefore, in order for you to actually take ownership, you will have to open the estate in probate court, a costly process that will require the assistance of an attorney.
To avoid you making the same mistake your grandmother may have made, you need to include both a will and a trust in your estate plans. The reason is because the trust does something that the will inherently cannot — transfer title.
Trust and Title
Many people mistakenly believe that unless they are “filthy rich” then there is no need for them to have an estate plan. This belief causes a huge loss of wealth accumulation in many families. The truth is that if you own property and/or if you have assets that exceed $100,000 in value, then you must have an estate plan. Property is the most valuable asset most of us will ever own in our lifetime and if we fail to plan for the management of our property, then we are essentially giving the property away. Having a revocable living trust in place is the most common way to plan for your estate. A living trust details who you wish to manage the property after your death and instructions on how to manage the property. During your lifetime, you are the trustee of your own trust but upon your death, your named successor will assume the role of trustee and he or she will gift the contents of the trust as per your instructions. This is crucial because you eliminate the need for having to open the estate in probate. There is no need for judicial intervention because you have left an estate plan that effectively speaks for itself.
Although there are a variety of websites and software that allow you to create wills and trusts, I strongly suggest that you contact an attorney to ensure that your estate plan is customized to your needs and is enforcable in your state. The Hall Legal Agency prepares wills, trusts and powers of attorney for your estate planning needs. Please contact us today to schedule a free consultation.