An estate plan is a set of legal actions you take now to provide for yourself and your loved-ones upon your incapacity or death. Although most of my clients choose a trust as the core document in their estate plan, a will has many benefits. With a will, you can:
- Plan for contingencies, like an intended beneficiary dying before you
- “Set it and forget it”—no retitling of assets is required
- Nominate guardians for your minor children
- Choose the person that will administer your estate when you die
- Make specific gifts at your death, like “my purple clock, serial number 11041999, goes to my cousin Wendy”
- Change your mind at any time during life (if competent).
With a will you can control who gets your assets when you die. If you die without a will or another mechanism for passing your assets, then your assets pass to your “INTESTATE successors.” These people include your spouse, children and descendants, but also could include your parents, cousins, and even in some cases, your spouse’s relatives. You might not even know some of these people! A will solves the problem of intestacy.
But, most clients use a trust as their main estate planning document. Although trusts usually require retitling of assets, a properly written trust has all the benefits of a will, with added benefits of privacy and cheaper and easier post-death administration. For example:
- Trusts are usually administered privately, but wills are usually administered in probate court.
- Private administration of a trust is generally much cheaper and easier than probate administration of a will.
- A properly written trust allows your chosen successor to administer your assets if you become incapacitated before you die.
As you can see, wills and trusts are both important estate planning tools. For more information or to discuss whether a will or trust is appropriate for your estate plan, please call me at 707-636-4806.
David J. Collier practices law in Sonoma County in the areas of Real Estate, Wills, Trusts, and Probate. David J. Collier is responsible for this content of this advertisement. The information above is not legal advice. To obtain legal advice you must discuss your unique circumstances with an attorney.