The most common estate planning documents are wills and living trusts. Both allow individuals to document how they wish to distribute their property after their deaths. The primary difference is that a living trust is established and funded currently and continues until the death of the person who benefits from the trust, while a will is valid only after the death of the testator. Another difference, one that is often cited, is that trusts are not subject to the probate process while wills must be probated by the courts.
There are pros and cons of each type of estate planning document. It is important to discuss your circumstances with an experienced attorney who can help you decide which option best meets your goals.
A living trust is one in which the trustor’s assets are transferred to a trust during his or her lifetime. Usually the trustor is the beneficiary of a living trust and can control the assets. There may benefits and disadvantages to the use of a living trust. It is critical to consult an experienced attorney to learn whether these benefits would apply to your circumstances.
Most estate planning lawyers recommend that everyone have a will, even when a living trust has been executed. A will can deal with assets that the person neglected to include in the living trust, preventing those assets from passing to someone other than an intended beneficiary.
Other Estate Planning Documents
In addition to drafting wills and trusts, our attorneys prepare other estate planning documents that include the following:
- Advance healthcare directives (sometimes called living wills) that contain instructions about end-of-life healthcare and identify a person who can make healthcare decisions in the event of incapacity
- Powers of attorney that designate another person to make financial decisions in the event of incapacity
We draft all estate planning documents to reflect our clients’ specific circumstances and intentions.
For more information, contact Smart, Donohue & NeJame, P.C. to schedule a free initial consultation with our living trust attorneys.