When it comes to estate administration, an individual’s circumstance will determine the most appropriate estate planning tool.
Why wills and trusts are often considered by those making an estate plan
Both will and trust will enable you to name beneficiaries of the trust and ensure a certain level of asset protection. Last wills and testaments, for one, can help you describe the accounts and estate property which are in your name (and not in the name of a trust). In terms of inheritance, this includes specifying who gets to inherit what. Generally excluded here, take note, are accounts or property that has a transfer-on-death designation or a payable on death beneficiary. Seeking legal advice from competent Tacoma estate planning attorneys can help clarify what this means.
Some opt to create a trust because they plan on drafting protective sub-trusts. Such will allow a beneficiary of the trust to receive some level of enjoyment but accounts and property are protected from creditors, particularly those of trust beneficiaries. Common examples in these cases are divorcing spouses, bankruptcy trustees, and claimants from car accident cases. It is, however, important to keep in mind that a trust account would require funding. This refers to adequately transferring accounts and property into the trust, which are likewise transferred from your name to the name of the trust.
According to the trust documents statute of relevant estate law, both a will and revocable living trust may be amended or revised. This applies when your circumstance or intentions change, and as so long as there is no incapacity to make decisions regarding the changes. This is in sharp contrast to an irrevocable trust, which is a legal document that may not be changed without due legal action.
When creating a will are often preferred over a revocable trust
Wills allow you to appoint an executor of an estate (or personal representative) who shall take responsibility for your affairs when you pass away. This usually includes administering accounts and property not held in trust, paying what is owed to a creditor, working on proceedings in the probate court, and distributing assets of the estate to your heirs or surviving spouse and family members.
Under state law, as long as there is testamentary capacity, a last will and testament may be used in naming guardians for a minor child. This is generally not a function of revocable living trusts.
When establishing a trust are often preferred over wills
A revocable living trust is beneficial in naming a spouse, child, grandchild, or any reliable loved one as trustee who will manage your estate property. Since legal documents for a trust you set up are not for public view, challenging a trust in the courthouse is more difficult than contesting a will. By setting up a trust and appointing a trustee, your loved ones can keep their privacy after death. Key here is the fact that a will is a public legal document.
The probate estate of a decedent can involve tedious and costly proceedings. Here is where trusts become extremely useful for avoiding probate issues. Accounts and property in a revocable living trust need not go through the probate process at the time of death. If you want to learn more about this, experienced Tacoma estate planning attorneys can give legal advice on how you can avoid probate procedures and paperwork.
A last will and testament are useless when you want to avoid guardianship and conservatorship proceedings during your lifetime. This is because such an estate planning document only becomes effective when you die.
If you need an attorney from a law firm specializing in these issues, give us a call. Contact our Tacoma estate planning attorneys at James A. Jones Attorney At Law because can assist with your estate planning needs.