Most people know what they would like to happen to their belongings after they die. Maybe they will pass them on to their spouse or family members. Maybe they will be donated to a specific charity. Maybe they will be split evenly among several children. Most people do not realize, however, that the only way to ensure their wishes are realized is through estate planning.
Estate planning is the process through which someone dictates what they want to happen to their estate - their money (known as assets) and all their belongings (including property like homes or condos.) If someone dies without having an estate plan in place - even if they had been planning to make one and just never got around to it - their estate will go to probate court. This is the long and expensive process through which the state they lived in determines in court what will happen to their estate.
Making an estate plan helps avoid probate. There are two most common forms of estate planning:
- A Will is a legally enforceable document someone leaves behind stating what will happen to their estate. With a Will, you can not only divide up your estate but decide when people will receive it and who will be in charge of that process. A Will also states who will become the legal guardian of any minor children the individual has if they die unexpectedly. Whatever is written in a Will becomes legal upon the death of its creator.
- A Trust is a fund that someone creates while they are living that will be given to someone they chose upon the creator’s death. It is not limited strictly to money. Unlike a Will, a Trust is continually funded while the creator is still living, rather than just at the moment of death. Someone making a Trust chooses who will take care of the contents as well. It can be a more proactive form of estate planning.
Wills and Trusts are not mutually exclusive, and there is no one size fits all solution to which is best suited for you. If you have young children, making a Will is a must. It is the only way to legally ensure that your children would be raised by who you would want them to be raised by. If you are more of a planner and want to save over generations, a Trust is a great fit. No matter what you choose, it is important to keep them updated with the latest circumstances and relationships in your life.
If you are ready to make an estate plan, contact Charles Tyler, Sr., Esq. today! We are dedicated, hardworking, and knowledgeable about making the right plan for your family. Don’t wait another day!