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According to Forbes, over half of all Americans don’t have even a basic estate plan in place. Although most people probably don’t think of making plans for their assets after death a priority, it’s an important consideration for adults of all ages and stages of life. An experienced estate planning attorney can help clients understand and organize living trusts and wills. While both documents serve the purpose of naming beneficiaries for property, they also have individual features that are useful.
The majority of clients that choose living trusts do so to avoid probate. This is the court process that a will must go through to allow distribution of assets by the executor. Living trusts make the process faster since the successor trustee does not have to go through the court. Instead, he or she pays the debts and distributes assets on their own according to written instructions from the original trustee. While drafting a living trust may involve a bigger up-front investment than drafting a will, the ability to avoid court often avoids an excess financial expense. A living trust allows the client to name someone to handle property in the event of incapacitation and can make the process of handling an estate, particularly a large one, easier for loved ones after death.
For those with young children, a will is usually the more popular option. Although the execution of a will does require the probate court process, it is also unlike a living trust in that it allows clients to name guardians for young children and establish managers for the underage beneficiaries’ property. Additionally, those with little property or extensive debts may find a will to be a better option, as wills specifically instruct the executor on how to pay taxes and debts. Creating a will with an estate planning attorney is a much less complex process than drafting a living trust, and the investment may also be significantly less.
Trying to decide whether you need a living trust or a will? The Law Offices of Stephen P. Levesque, an experienced estate attorney, can help. We know how confusing the process can be. Rely on our guidance to help you make legal decisions with confidence. Contact us online or by calling (401) 490-4900 to schedule your consultation today.
Trusts are an integral part of estate planning for many individuals. Understanding the most common types of trusts offers insight into how these tools can be used to provide for future generations.
With a revocable trust, the person who creates the trusts retains full control over the assets therein. He or she has complete freedom to change or cancel the trust. A revocable trust is sometimes called a “living trust.” This structure is often used to avoid probate, which can cause a lengthy delay of settling the individual’s estate. However, assets held within the trust are available to the creator’s creditors, if any.
Irrevocable trusts transfer the assets to the trust beneficiary and cannot be controlled or revoked by the creator. One type of irrevocable trust, a life insurance trust, provides tax advantages when created to hold life insurance proceeds.
These trust funds are commonly established to save money for children and grandchildren. When the beneficiaries of the trust reach a certain age, they are often given the funds to use as they please.
This form of trust is managed by an independent trustee. He or she has the final say in how the funds are spent. This structure could be used to provide for a minor child without giving the child full control, for example.
An individual who is disabled or has special needs may rely on government benefits. A special needs trust allows this person to benefit from a loved one’s estate without losing government assistance.
This type of trust is designed to protect assets and can be used to benefit from estate planning tax guidelines. When one spouse passes away, the other spouse receives the marital trust. Any remaining assets pass to children or other beneficiaries after the second spouse passes.
Rhode Island residents can rely on The Law Offices of Stephen P. Levesque for their estate planning needs. We can help create trusts and manage wills to ensure that an individual’s estate is administered in accordance with his or her wishes. Call (401) 490-4900 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.
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