When a person dies, the money they have in their account and the property they own is referred to as an estate. The legal status for an estate are either a will or no will, estate planning or no estate planning, and a trust or no trust.
When a person dies with a will, the terms of the will determine what happens to the person’s assets. If there is no will, then state law determines what happens to the assets.
With estate planning, you can transfer your assets to people or organizations of your choice before you die. With no estate planning, state law determines where your assets go.
A trust can be used in place of a will or in addition to a will. A trust is an agreement made by one person (the trustee) on behalf of another (the beneficiary). Assets can be transferred into a trust before death and then out of the trust after death.
Who should have a will
A will lets you decide what happens to your property (your home, investments, insurance policies, etc.) after you die.
If you die without a will, state law determines how your property is distributed. In some cases, the state may appoint a guardian for your children or distribute your property to other relatives.
Most people don’t like the idea of their loved ones fighting over their possessions, but if you don’t have a will, that’s exactly what might happen.
Even if you don’t have children or other dependents, it’s important to have a will. That’s because it allows you to decide who inherits your possessions in the most fair and appropriate manner possible. If you don’t make these decisions before death, the state will determine them for you.
A will can be simple or complicated depending on your assets and family situation. A good lawyer can help you determine what kind of will is best for you.
Who should have a trust
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A trust can be an excellent tool if you have children, especially children who may not be as ready for wealth as you would like. You can create a trust for children to receive money or property, and they can access that property when they are ready.
You can also create a protective trust for children. In this case, you put their property in trust for them, but you specify conditions under which they can receive it. For example, you could put their property in trust until they are 30, and then they can access it.
Protective trusts are very helpful in cases of domestic violence. If your spouse is abusive, they cannot sue to get their hands on the family money in a protective trust. They must prove themselves worthy of the property first before receiving it.
Trusts are also very useful for senior care. If you want to keep your loved one from being impoverished by medical bills, you can put assets in a trust before handing them over.
Who should have estate planning
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Anyone over the age of 18 who owns assets should have some form of estate planning. This includes people with a few dollars in their savings account all the way up to billionaires.
Even people who are married should have some form of estate planning. Most states require both spouses to approve changes to a will, which could be a problem if one spouse was not included in the making of the will.
Why? Because most states recognize what’s called “community property,” which means that most assets are legally owned equally by both spouses. This could cause issues if one spouse dies before the other, and the will is not updated.
Who Shouldn’t Have It? Anyone who is not concerned about how his or her assets will be distributed after death should not have estate planning. As mentioned before, you can plan your own estate, but if you would like help with any legal aspects of your estate, then you may want to seek out an attorney or advisor.
Make a plan for your family
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Now that you have decided to get started, the next step is deciding how you want your family to receive assets when you pass. There are several options depending on the type of assets you have and how closely connected you and your family are.
Assets can include money, real estate, business interests, investments, and personal belongings. How closely connected you are with your family depends on how willing they are to accept what you give them.
If you are not married or in a marriage-like relationship, then a will is the most common option. A will lists all of your assets, who receives them, and when they are received. If you die without a will then state law determines who receives what. This may not be what you want!
A trust can also be set up to distribute assets at your death. A trust attorney sets these up and adds instructions for them such as who receives what and when.
Understand what a will does
A will is a document that specifies how you wish your property to be distributed after your death. By creating a will, you can also name an executor to carry out the instructions in the will and distribute the property.
Will also allows you to nominate an individual or organization to manage some or all of the estate assets until beneficiaries come of age or until a future date specified in the will.
You can also specify if you want your will to go through probate or not. Probate is a court process that approves the instructions in the will and grants authority to the executor to distribute estate assets and take care of non-estate assets.
There are several reasons why a person may choose not to create a will. One reason is that they may not have much wealth and do not see the need for one. Others may fear it could lead to false accusations of wrongdoing by thewill writer.
Create a will
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A will is the document that states how you would like your property to be distributed after your death.
Most states require you to name an executor or administrator to handle the distribution of property. The executor or administrator must be a trustworthy person as they will be tasked with distributing your property according to your will.
The will must also be filed with the appropriate court and administrative agencies. The legal requirements for this can vary by state.
It is important to know that a will does not take effect until you die. While you can make changes to it before then, it does not have any effect on how your property is distributed until then.
If you have children, it is also important to know that if you do not have a will, the state may determine who receives your property using different laws.
Hire a lawyer
Lawyers are professionals who have gone to school for several years and passed a state exam to be licensed to practice law. There are different types of lawyers, including property lawyers, corporate lawyers, and wills and estates lawyers.
Any of these can help you with estate planning, but it is important to find one that specializes in this area. General practice lawyers may not have the knowledge or expertise in this specific area.
Many law firms offer free initial consultations so take advantage of that and get some advice and input on how to move forward with your plans. You may even find that your employer offers free legal services so look into that as well.
You can find will writers online that do an adequate job for a low cost, but what happens if they make a mistake? What if they don’t include something critical? It is always best to go with someone who has experience and expertise in the field.
Include personal possessions in your will
Some people include personal possessions, like a favorite watch or family heirlooms, in their will. This can be a nice way to remember loved ones and pass on a bit of who they were to the next generation.
However, this can create problems if the will is not well-crafted. If the will only specifies that a certain item goes to a certain person, then whoever receives the item gets to decide its fate.
If they want to sell it, donate it, or keep it in the family, they can — and there’s nothing you can do about it. Including personal possessions in your will is fine as long as it’s done properly.
Will professionals are well-versed in issues like this and can ensure that your wishes are carried out properly.
If you’re in California, I would be happy to answer your questions, and help guide you to a secure financial future for your loved ones. Please get in touch with me and we’ll talk. I don’t bite!