Wills Trusts & Estate Planning
WILLS AND TRUSTS: WILLS
Your will can do more than simply relay instructions on how to distribute your property after death. You can name relatives, friends, charities, or any other recipient you wish as the beneficiaries of the assets in your estate. You can also relay other instructions, such as specifying an executor for your estate or a legal guardian for your children. The executor is responsible for administering your estate and making sure that your instructions are followed. The executor also represents your estate if it must pass through probate court. Given these responsibilities and the large amount of time they require, you should give careful thought to your choice of executor.
You should never consider your will a final document. Laws and legal interpretations change, as does your personal, financial, and family situation. You should periodically review and update your will with the help of an attorney. Your will can either be replaced by a new will or revised by drafting an amendment or “codicil”. Wills and codicils must be written using specific legal formulas in order to be valid. We can help you draft or revise a will that will meet your specific needs.
WILLS AND TRUSTS: TRUSTS
A trust is a legal entity which transfers property or assets to a manager or “trustee”. The person who creates the trust, or “trustor”, determines how the trust’s proceeds should be distributed and the trustee manages the property for the beneficiary.
The major types of trust are:
Living Trusts. A trust established during the life of the trustor. A revocable living trust can be changed or ended by the trustor, while an irrevocable trust cannot be ended by the trustor without court action.
Testamentary Trusts. Testamentary trusts take effect upon the death of the trustor, who can make changes to its details at any time before death. A testamentary trust therefore allows the trustor to maintain close control over their property.
There are many other types of trusts, tailored to specific local laws and individual situations. A trust can be an important part of your estate planning, but the complex nature of these legal entities and the variation between them means that you should consult us before establishing a trust of any kind.
If you would like to schedule an initial consultation with one of our attorneys please call us at (515) 332-1157, or fill out our form below.