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Estate Planning: Why Wills & Trusts are Key Documents for Everyone

Posted on in Taxation Law

Let's face it; talking about estate planning using wills and trusts is morbid. Nothing about the discussion is fun or exciting, but it's a discussion everyone needs to have at some point.

Estate planning is planning for what happens to your assets when you pass away, and identifying who should be in charge of that process for you.

Failing to plan ahead, by having a living trust and pour-over will prepared, means that in effect, the state is writing your will for you. State "intestacy" laws spell out, clearly, how assets should pass when someone dies without a will. The problem is, the state's plan for your assets may not be your plan for your assets.

By taking control of your own planning now, you also get to identify who will be responsible for handling your estate and trust administration. This can help ensure that who you want to be in charge will do so, rather than leaving it up to a decision for the courts.

Additionally, properly structured and funded living trusts are designed to avoid probate court at death, meaning that assets pass much more smoothly and with significantly less hassle than they would if a probate proceeding was necessary.

Probate simply means "proving the will", and it is a court process designed to settle an estate after death. Avoiding probate is often desirable because probate can be expensive and time-consuming for your loved ones. Probate proceedings are also public proceedings, meaning that anyone could view the court records.

By putting a living trust and pour-over will in place now, you are taking an important step toward ensuring your wishes will be honored at your death.

Contact us to learn more or to schedule an appointment to begin your own estate planning discussion.

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