Where there is a will, we trust there is a way.
And when we have trust, we have a will to be successful.
Plays on words aside, estate planning is a process by which we look to successfully transfer our legacy and the fruits of our lifetime of labor to our family and close friends to perpetuate our legacy for as long as possible.
Estate planning is a labor of love – love for our loved ones and not wanting to put them through the pain of uncertainty and the stress of probate court to determine what happens to the “stuff” that is left behind when we pass away.
Figuring out our wishes for our assets is difficult and painful after we pass away if we don’t make our wishes known. We never want our loved ones to suffer, but if we don’t take responsibility for our estate, we may well force some suffering upon our families by preventing closure and bringing in a probate court judge to make decisions that we should have made when we were alive.
Plan Your Estate’s Future
When you go out of town, sometimes you leave instructions for people at work or for people at home. This is usually a list of tasks and instructions that need to be completed in order for the business and/or home to function well without you.
Think of wills and trusts in this same vein. You can manage all your assets while you’re alive, but when you “go away,” you want the assets to still be managed according to what you desire so the assets don’t suffer from your absence. Life goes on, effortlessly.
Without wills and trusts, however, there may be a lot of effort put forth by your family, and there will be too much uncertainty involving your estate to put family members or friends at ease. It is imperative that you work with an estate planning attorney to make that “to-do” list for your estate, for when you make that permanent departure.
What Are Wills and Trusts?
There are wills and trusts that go together in an estate plan, and there are also trusts that can essentially replace a will – or at least, give more specific direction that what might be provided in the will. Both wills and trusts are valuable tools to help you establish your estate and express your wishes for your estate for the record so transfer and forwarding of the estate to surviving generations can be as seamless and painless as possible.
A will is a basic estate-planning document that is considered a “road map” for your estate from a 30,000-foot view, telling the probate court your basic and general wishes for various parts of your estate and who or what entity should get each asset.
A trust is a legal document that is a bit more specific than a will in that it usually has a group of assets geared for a specific beneficiary, and the trust is managed by a trustee who has the charge of executing the trust according to specific instructions (including what assets can be given to the beneficiary at what time, and in what method).
A will almost always has to go through probate, as it is rarely specific enough to be executed on its own, so a probate judge often has to go through the will and ensure the overall intent of the document and assign an executor to execute the will according to the judge’s interpretation of the deceased’s wishes. A trust does not need probate, as it is more specific and has very precise purposes for the assets inside it.
It is important to have the will and any trusts working together with a consistent voice, and while the will may avoid some estate taxes and other costs, a trust is more secure and can separate assets from the rest of the estate, which lowers the value of the estate as a whole and exposes less of the estate to estate tax risk.
Trust in the Certainty of Family Today
For the sake of your loved ones, it should be common sense to do the work of organizing your estate and planning for its proper disposition. However, not many people have done sufficient planning for the certainty of death – due to the uncertainty of time.
Setting up an estate plan with wills and trusts is the best way to make certainty out of the uncertainty of when the certainty of death will occur. Make the when irrelevant by seizing the day and contacting one of our estate-planning attorneys for a free consultation to discuss the efficacy of wills and trusts to secure the future of your estate according to your wishes.
Family is a certainty. Love your family with that same enduring certainty by building an estate plan that secures the future of your estate and your legacy – on your terms. Contact us today to learn how.