Estate planning allows you to protect your family and your assets for many years to come. Even if you already have a plan in place, it is important to review your plan and make updates as necessary. It can be difficult to know where to start, but an experienced estate planning attorney in the Cape Coral area can help you put together a plan to meet your needs.
Many of us are aware that wills and trusts are essential parts of the estate process, but it is important to understand the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Generally, a will is intended to specify where assets in your name will go after you pass away. In most cases, you will name a personal representative who will be responsible for making sure your property is distributed in accordance with your will upon your death. You will need to make sure to name beneficiaries on all your accounts and review them regularly to keep them up to date.
Creating a will is a simple and cost-effective process and may be all you need if you have a smaller estate. Having a will also requires the court to supervise the distribution of your assets, which gives you an additional way to ensure your estate will be handled according to your wishes.
While having a will is important, it is not enough to avoid probate and it will not control joint assets, or assets you own with another person. The probate process can be costly and time-consuming for your loved ones, and the distribution of estate will be public record. Wills also only go into effect upon your death, so you will not be able to use it to name someone to handle your affairs or care for you if you become incapacitated.
If you decide to create a trust, you will name a trustee and allow them to hold property for your beneficiaries. There are different types of trust, including revocable, irrevocable, living, and testamentary trusts.
Generally, revocable or living trusts are preferred by many, as they can be amended during your lifetime and allow your estate to bypass the probate process. Trusts are often beneficial for people with high-value assets or larger estates. They allow for privacy and go into effect immediately, meaning you can use it to name a guardian should you ever become incapacitated.
However, trusts are more expensive and are more difficult to set up than wills. You will typically need to retitle your assets in the name of the trust, and any assets that are not retitled will go through probate.
Deciding what to include in your estate plan can be challenging and will depend on a number of factors, including the number of beneficiaries you have and the size of your estate. An attorney in your area can review your assets and help you determine what is best for your family’s future.