While it is true that creating a will is a basic part of estate planning, it is important to note that a will is not all there is to the process. A will determines who will get what property after the owner passes on as well as determining who will be in charge of distributing the decedent’s belongings. However, people should also consider using trusts because they offer more flexibility and protections than a will alone can provide.
When determining what types of estate planning documents should be used, owners should look at what their assets are and determine if they have any special considerations or circumstances. Minor children, an elderly parent or children with disabilities or long-term needs may help determine what type of plan is best and how to set it up.
It is important to remember that how an individual’s assets are handled after death is his or her choice. This may mean that more is given to charities than family members or to certain children, but it is up to each person to make these decisions. For this reason, choosing the right trustee is also critical, and individuals should avoid making this selection based on emotions or reflex, such as selecting the oldest child because they are the oldest but not necessarily the most responsible.
Estate planning can ensure that assets are divided according to the owner’s wishes, but the plan must meet legal requirements and use the most effective tools available. Trusts in particular are great ways to dispense wealth while avoiding probate, but they must be set up properly. An estate planning attorney can assist a client by drafting these documents and keeping them up to date as circumstances change.
Source: NASDAQ, “Estate Planning Guide 101: A Basic Guide To Establishing Your Estate “, Joe Young, October 15, 2014