Wills and Trusts
You work hard your entire life to accumulate your assets, and wealth, and provide for your family. But without a will and trust in place, your passing may result in everything you worked hard to accumulate being mismanaged, as well as spark disputes amongst your family members. To avoid this strife, it’s important to work with a wills and trusts lawyer to have a plan in place that will give you the peace of mind of knowing your family will be taken care of and your assets appropriately distributed in the event of your death.
At Capital City Law, we have the knowledge and experience to provide you with estate planning services that make this complex process more manageable. Learn more about why it is essential to have a will and trust, then contact us to get started on your plan.
What Is a Last Will?
A last will is an estate planning document that dictates who will receive your property when you pass away. It also appoints an attorney to represent you and carry out your wishes as you state in your last will. In your will, you specify how you want your possessions distributed, and name beneficiaries to receive them. You are also able to appoint a legal guardian if you pass away before your children turn 18.
Your last will and testament are just one part of a comprehensive estate plan. If a person dies without a last will and testament, they are said to have died “intestate” and state laws will determine how and to whom the person’s assets will be distributed. Some things you should know about wills:
A will has no legal authority until after death. This means that a will does not help manage a person’s affairs when they are incapacitated, whether by illness or injury.
A will does not help an estate avoid probate. A will is a legal document submitted to the probate court, so it is basically an “admission ticket” to probate.
A will is the only place to nominate the guardians (or backup parents) of your minor children if they are orphaned. All parents of minor children should document their choice of guardians. If you leave this to chance, your children could end up with the wrong guardians.
Keeping Your Will Updated
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to predict what the future holds, and life can change in the blink of an eye. That’s why it’s essential that you stay prepared by maintaining a will at every stage of your life. Your life at age 80 will likely look a lot different than it did when you were 40, so making regular changes and updates to your will are necessary to ensure your plans for your assets are still relevant at the time of your passing. The wills and trusts lawyers at Capital City Law can help you with these updates to help keep your estate plan on track.
A trust is a legally binding relationship when a trustee holds property on behalf of someone else, known as the beneficiary. You do not have to be deceased to have a revocable trust, as it goes into effect as soon as it’s been established. They remain private and assure immediate action if specified. A trust only covers the property that is transferred to it, and in the name of the trustee.
Trusts have been a tool used for hundreds of years by the wealthy to avoid the lengthy probate process when someone dies. However, nowadays, anyone is able to take advantage of the benefits trusts have to offer. Here are a few reasons why trusts are beneficial for everyone:
If designed correctly, it can avoid probate.
It can protect assets for the beneficiaries against creditor claims.
It minimizes “death taxes”.
It provides for potential mental incapacity.
Revocable Trusts Cover Three Phases of the Individual's Life:
1. WHEN THE TRUSTMAKER IS ALIVE.
This is when the trust is initially drafted and includes specifications allowing the trustmaker to invest and spend the assets listed in the trust for their benefit during their lifetime. The trust can be undone, hence the name “revocable”, and can be adjusted and changed throughout the trustmaker’s life. This is an important consideration because trusts become active immediately, rather than as soon as the trustmaker passes away.
2. WHEN/IF THE TRUSTMAKER BECOMES MENTALLY INCAPACITATED.
The trust should specify what happens if the trustmaker becomes mentally incapacitated. Trusts generally name successor trustees, who are designated to step in and take over managing the trust in the event of the trustmaker becoming mentally incapacitated.
3. AFTER THE TRUSTMAKER PASSES AWAY.
Because they can no longer make changes to their trust, once the trustmaker passes away, their trust automatically becomes irrevocable. The named successor steps in and pays the trustmaker’s debts, and distributes the assets as outlined in the trust.
Work With a Wills and Trusts Lawyer Today
While it may seem like a daunting task, working with an experienced lawyer to create a will or trust doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. The wills and trusts lawyers at Capital City Law are here to help you through every step of the process and can answer any questions you may have.