Whether you’re wealthy or poor, everyone needs an estate plan. It’s important your assets and family are taken care of after you die, and it’s also important you have everything in order so as not to create contention among those you love. If you don’t have a plan in place, a probate court could decide what happens to your property. The following are four documents to be sure you include in your estate plan.
A living trust is something that comes into effect the moment it is notarized. There are certain assets and funds you will place in the trust, naming a certain individual as the trustee over the trust. The trustee will be required to carry out your requests, which can sometimes be distribution of property while you are still alive. Loans can be taken from the trust for your beneficiaries, but only if you have stated that option in your original trust arrangement.
Your will should detail all of your property and what you want to have happen to it. It will contain every piece of property you own at the time of your death, except for that which you’ve placed in a trust. Even if you have a trust, you should also have a will. If you’ve already bequeathed assets to certain family members, you should be sure to name those in your will. For example, if you’ve verbally promised your retirement account to your brother, name him as the beneficiary in your will.
If you have children who are minors at the time of your death, you’ll want to be sure they are properly cared for by someone you can count on. Consider asking someone who is close to your family, who shares the same values, who will allow your children to carry on as normal a life as possible and someone who is smart with finances. If you are worried about the financial aspect and all your children will inherit, you can name a separate financial guardian who will manage your children’s inheritance.
Letter of Intent
In many cases, a letter of intent is not legally valid, but it could be in other cases. A letter of intent is something you’ll write for your executors or beneficiaries with specific instructions about a particular piece of property. You might also detail funeral requests you have.
Getting Started With Your Estate Plan
These four elements are only the beginning. Contact a living trust lawyer today, like the best trust lawyer, to learn more about the other elements that should be a part of your estate plan.