Estate Planning Trusts
Trusts take many forms and can be fairly simple to very complex. Whether one is married, single, with or without children, or whether an estate is simply comprised of a home and a savings account, or is very large and comprised of numerous assets, a Trust simply holds a person’s property (real estate, bank & investment accounts, vehicles, personal property, and businesses) and upon that person’s death the property is distributed as directed by the Trust. Most importantly, a Trust is confidential, doesn’t require probate, and is not exclusively for people who are wealthy.
Often, all that a trustee needs is assistance in distributing the property, paying creditors and financial reporting to the IRS. Trusts that are more complex, that provide for property to be held for years in order for periodic distributions to a child for education purposes, or for a loved-one for their care and maintenance, require more assistance in their management.
Last Will and Testament
A Will is a legal document that allows one to name an executor and state how their property is to be distributed to the heirs upon their death. Without a trust, a probate court will oversee the probate process and supervise the estate administration. Ideally, when a person creates a trust all their property is transferred at that time and probate is avoided; however, over the course of many years, newly added property may not be properly titled to the trust and therefore, the Will directs the probate court to distribute to the Trust. In both cases, the property under the Will requires a probate court in order to ensure that one’s property is distributed according to one’s wishes.
Many people assume that if they merely have a Last Will and Testament, their property automatically goes to their heirs as they wish. It is sometimes heartbreaking for families to learn that this isn’t true, and that they must go through the probate process while grieving the loss of their loved-one.
A will and trust are essential at every stage of your life. Combined, they provide you with the opportunity to distribute your property, establish care for your children and otherwise express your wishes for what will happen upon your death. A will and trust are also necessary if you intend to leave property to someone who is not your relative, e.g., a domestic partner, a step-child, a friend or a charity. If you die without a will and trust, the law determines how your property is distributed — and the decisions a court makes might not reflect your wishes.
Estate lawyer Donald K. Coppa can assist by drafting a valid will and trust to ensure your intentions are honored.
Changing your Will and Trust
Your estate plan should reflect the changes in your life. You need to periodically update your Will and Trust to reflect these changes:
– financial situation
– marital status
– domestic partnership
– birth of a child
– philanthropic interest
– general lifestyle decisions
A healthcare directive allows you to choose who will make healthcare decisions on your behalf when you are unable. It further directs healthcare providers that do or do not wish to be placed on life support in case of catastrophic illness. This is a vital part of every estate plan, and one of the services we provide with every Will we prepare for you and your family.
Creating an optimal estate plan
Drafting an effective Will and Trust requires more than completing a form. If your property is properly contained in a trust, distribution upon death is a fairly smooth process. Without a trust, families can potentially face a probate process which delays distribution and incurs costs which could have been avoided. If a court determines that your Will is invalid, your wishes will not be honored at the time of your death. We meticulously draft your Will and Trust and consider all aspects of your estate plan. We review your family arrangements, financial situation, burial wishes and philosophical goals to guide you in making the best estate planning decisions, and draft your Will and Trust accordingly.
Call us at 775-329-1066 or contact Donald K. Coppa online.