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In the event of your death, your wishes for your estate must be delineated in a will. By making a proper estate plan regarding your assets, trusts, and taxes, you will protect yourself and your family from unnecessary strain and avoid the costs associated with probate.
By creating an estate plan, you are writing yourself into a position of power over your property and assets, even after your death. If you have specific wishes, desires, or plans concerning your property, it's crucial to create a plan that will be carried out after you are gone. Creating a thorough estate plan protects your rights and gives you a lasting say in your legal affairs.
Upon your death, your family could be left in a delicate position. Attempting to divide your estate and assets could cause divisions among relationships and fracture your family and estate in a way contradictory to your wishes. By creating a thorough estate plan, will, or trust, you will give your family guidance and direction in pursuing your estate interests. Estate planning also makes the process smoother for the executor of your will. Specific designation of your wishes through legal documentation will also provide guardianship and protection for your descendants and will designate financial provision for them upon your death.
Probate is the process by which your will is examined. Probate is done to ensure the document's legality, but it can be an expensive and time-consuming process to complete. Probate often involves excessive fees—court fees, attorney fees, accounting fees, appraisal fees, bond fees and others—as well as cumbersome paperwork, bureaucratic delays and familial tension.
For those wishing to avoid this process, probate can be avoided through the creation of a trust instead of a will. Trusts will already be actively distributing property and assets, and therefore do not have to go through legal review.
A will is a legally-binding document that must be created before you die. Its legality will be reviewed through a court process. Within this document, you can designate to whom your property and assets will go in the event of your death, dividing property and belongings between your spouse, children, or close acquaintances. Wills also appoint an individual to be your representative and carry out your exact wishes upon your death.
Trusts, however, can be put into immediate effect upon creation. Trust processes help you distribute your property while you are alive and bypass court probate procedures. During this process, individuals or institutions can act as trustees that legally hold a property for a beneficiary. Trusts commonly have two recipients: one that receives primary benefits during their lifetime while the second beneficiary receives benefits after the first is dead. Consult with an attorney or estate planner and discuss your situation when allocating your will and trust.