Will and Living Trust: Planning for the Future

Will and Living Trust: Planning for the Future

No matter your age, it is essential to plan for the future — which includes having a will and a living trust. There is no way of knowing what the future holds for any of us as illness, injury, or accidents may occur without warning.

Having a will and living trust ready when tragedy strikes can mean the difference between your family struggling and being well prepared. It will pre-emptively alleviate as much of their stress as possible during what will be an incredibly painful and difficult time.

How can a will or living trust help you plan for the future? Keep reading to find out.

What is a Will?

A will is a very important legal document that informs your family of how you want your property and assets to be distributed when you die. If you have any minor children, it will also include how you wish them to be cared for through guardianship provisions.

Without a will, your intentions and desires may not be carried out and family relationships could even break down during discussions.

A will also must be witnessed. You should make sure that the document and your signature is witnessed. This will lower the risk of someone challenging your instructions after you die.

Some folks attempt to write their own will but it is a better idea to have an Orange County estate planning attorney prepare your will and any other estate planning documents to ensure that all your bases are covered, and everything is legally sound. An estate planning attorney can also offer very helpful advice and guidance throughout the process.

The Benefits of Having a Will

There are many benefits to having a will, both for you and your loved ones after you die.

  1. Full Control Over Your Assets

With a well-written will, you can determine exactly where you want all of your assets and property to go after you die. Your loved ones will be able to receive financial assets as well as personal belongings.

This also means that estranged relatives cannot easily challenge the clauses in your will and take items or money that you do not want them to have access to.

  1. Fewer Delays

Without a will, your heirs may run into delays such as probate or litigation, which can last years when trying to receive their inheritance. Not only is this a frustrating and potentially antagonistic process, but it can also cause hardship if your family is struggling to pay for funeral costs or other expenses such as hospital bills.

  1. Decreased Stress for Your Relatives

Your death will cause a lot of pain, stress, and grief for your loved ones. This will be compounded if you do not leave a will behind, and they are left to sort through assets and documents without a definite understanding of your desires.

Leaving a will provides certainty in an otherwise chaotic time. Your family will have peace of mind knowing that they are carrying out your last wishes and understanding what they can expect to receive in terms of assets and belongings.

  1. Prepare for Taxes and Expenses

Lastly, having a will in place means you will be planning ahead for taxes and expenses such as funeral and hospital costs. Without a plan, these expenses can be very costly and unexpected, leaving your family scrambling for the required funds.

Types of Wills

There are various types of wills to choose from depending on the individual’s specific needs.

  • Attested Will - This type of will is preferred because it is typed out and witnessed.  The witnesses must not be someone who stands to benefit from the will. 
  • Holographic Will - This will is handwritten and signed by you, the testator, but does not have to be witnessed. This type of will may be created anytime, particularly if you have a sudden illness or injury and time is of the essence.
  • Living Will - This will leaves your preferences for your end of life medical care, such as whether you want to remain on life support.  A living will is similar to a medical power of attorney but the living will does not name a agent to speak on your behalf.
  • Mutual Will - This type of will is often made by married or lifetime partners. When one member of the couple dies, the other is bound to follow the terms in the mutual will. This can be helpful when providing for children.

What is a Living Trust?

Unlike a will, a living trust is a legal document that places your assets into a trust for your benefit throughout your lifetime. When you die, the benefit is transferred to your chosen beneficiaries.

While this might not seem like a big difference, there are a number of benefits to a living trust that you may not find in a will. Read on to find out how a living trust will help you plan for the future.

The Benefits of Having a Living Trust

There are three main benefits of a living trust:

  1. No Probate

Probate, or court proceedings, can be time-consuming and very expensive. With a living trust, your loved ones will be able to avoid this process because the successor trustee, the person who transfers your assets to the new beneficiaries, will simply follow your directions without any court involvement.

     2. Less Expensive 

The cost of a probate proceeding in Orange County is often in the ten of thousands of dollars.  It is only a fraction of that cost to have your trust attorney in Orange County prepare the necessary trust documents and protect your beneficiaries from suffering through probate. You will save your loved ones tens of thousands of dollars and months of anxiety by having a living trust and other associated documents already in place before the time of your death.

     3. More Security and Privacy:

Unlike a will, which is public record, the contents and nuances of your living trust will not be made public and can be changed and modified throughout your lifetime.

Be Prepared with the Help of Estate and Trust Lawyer

Organizing a will or living trust is a necessary part of planning for the future. With the help of an Estate and Trust Lawyer in Orange County, you will be guided through the legal process of drafting these documents and planning for your wealth and assets.

While there is no way of knowing what the future holds, it is better to have a plan in place so that your wishes are followed in the event of your death. Your family will have more peace of mind and less stress during this tragic time, and you will be confident that your assets will go exactly where you want them to.

Maria Parker assists her clients plan for their end of life health care wishes and the ultimate distribution of their wealth after death. She personally experienced the importance of planning at the time her father passed away.

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