What you should know about Estate Planning
No one can predict the future, but planning ahead allows you to anticipate the possibilities and be prepared for each one. Through estate planning, you can draft an arrangement for how your wealth and assets will be managed and distributed – even after your death.
The two most well known estate planning documents are the Will and Trust.
A will is a legal document that covers your final wishes and distributes your funds, real estate, and personal property assets after your death. Wills are usually fairly simple to produce, only requiring your signature as well as those of two witnesses.
This estate distribution document typically includes:
- Instructions on how you want your assets to be distributed
- Instruction on how you want your remaining debts and taxes paid
- Names of guardians for underage family members under the legal age
- Name of a property manager for children’s assets (testamentary trusts can be established for your children, with trustees overseeing the distribution)
- Name of the will’s executor (the executor is the person responsible for managing your estate, paying any debts, and distributing what’s left)
Unlike wills, trusts allow the passing of your property outside of probate court.
After your passing, if you die without any estate planning documents (in the eyes of the law this is called intestate) or with just a Will, the probate court is often necessary to carry out the Will’s instructions, or far worse distribute your assets according to the state’s laws. Do not leave it up to the government to decide who will receive your assets, and set up a revocable living trust to bypass probate entirely. With a trust, your property can go directly and immediately to your beneficiaries.
Other benefits of this estate plan include protection from court challenges, maintaining your privacy after death, and avoiding a conservatorship. An estate planning lawyer in our Sacramento office can help you set up a trust.