Create Or Update Your Will And Set Up A Trust If Appropriate
No asset protection plan is complete without an estate plan that includes a will. A will is a fundamental building block of an estate plan. The will normally designates an executor or personal representative as well as beneficiaries who should receive your property after your death. It also explains how property should be allocated.
Some people believe they don’t need wills because they intend to put all their assets into trusts to avoid probate court, minimize taxes and simplify the transfer of property to chosen beneficiaries. However, trusts may not be sufficient. A will is still important even when most assets are deeded to one or more trusts. At Reed Law, PLC, we help clients create, modify and review wills. Our estate planning attorneys are experienced, friendly and professional. Our goal is to give you peace of mind by putting enforceable estate planning documents in place.
Crafting A Comprehensive Will
Through an exploratory conversation with a knowledgeable estate planning lawyer at our Kalamazoo law firm, you will learn how to select and name beneficiaries and an executor. We codify straightforward as well as complex estate plans in our clients’ wills.
We will guide you in inventorying your assets and determining what all should be explicitly named in your will and what assets can be described simply and generally. For example, you may want your oldest child to inherit a rare, antique artifact, while other children to inherit the rest of your jewelry or collectibles. You may also have assets that you intend more than one person to share, such as a boat or vacation cabin or cottage.
In addition to covering the topic of assets, a will can express the wishes of parents of minor children regarding preferred guardians. A family court judge may overrule these wishes for the sake of the children’s best wishes. Nonetheless, a parent’s documented preference(s) will typically carry weight.
Living Trusts And Their Benefits
A living trust is another powerful testamentary document that many people choose to use in addition to a will. A living trust can help the trustee who is responsible for administering it to transfer assets smoothly to named beneficiaries.
With a living will, you will retain ownership and control of your property during your lifetime, and upon your death, the trustee will have the right and responsibility to distribute assets according to the terms of the trust. Creating a living will can set the scene for minimizing probate and ensuring smooth asset transfer processes after death.
Consult with us to clarify questions you may have such as: “Will vs. trust: what’s the difference?” We are here to help. Also ask about special needs trusts, real estate investment trusts and other trusts that may suit your financial and family circumstances.
Examples Underscoring The Importance Of Effective Estate Planning
Every family will face the impact of its members’ wills and, possibly also trusts, someday. When someone dies without the correct estate planning documents in place or with questionable signatures on them, expensive litigation can be the result.
In recent years, one well-known celebrity with great wealth died without a will or trust at all. What followed was years of wrangling among siblings who emerged and claimed their inheritance rights. High legal fees and taxes took large portions of the estate because there were no testamentary documents.
Another celebrity died with a proper trust, but handwritten corrections naming a new trustee were called into question by the past trustee. Also in this case, legal action took up time and money, as well as exposing family members to reputation-harming public scrutiny that could have been avoided with comprehensive legal counsel regarding the modification.
Common Questions About Wills And Probate
Bring your questions such as those below to our attorneys’ attention. We are eager to provide personalized answers to help you put your estate plan in order.
Is probate court something to be avoided if at all possible?
Not necessarily! Many lawyers as well as people who have settled estates have appreciated the structure and finality of probate. One or more trusts can achieve other goals, but if your loved one’s estate is heading for probate, it is not something to dread.
What if you were named as the executor of someone’s estate but you feel unable or unwilling to serve in that capacity?
Most wills include nominations for secondary choices of executors or personal representatives. If not, you should be able to petition the court to name someone else in your place.
Get Started Conversing With A Lawyer About Your Estate Plan
To schedule a consultation with one of our estate planning attorneys, contact us in Kalamazoo by phone or email.