It is critical to make your wishes clear and definite in your estate plan. It is very difficult to administer an estate when the instructions are: “Suzi Q knows what I want!” Once you are gone, we cannot ask what you intended, and Suzi Q may not do exactly what you want. It is not […]
Wills & trusts are each used to give your assets to other people. If, after your death, you do not have these important documents in place, a probate court will decide what happens with your estate and beneficiaries. Dying intestate (without having made a valid will) means that the probate process will take much longer to conclude and transfer property.
Although wills & trusts are related, that is the extent of their similarity—they are very different and serve different purposes:
- A will names your beneficiaries, giving instructions on how to distribute your assets and property after you die. It also allows you to choose an executor and a guardian for your children.
- A trust is a fiduciary arrangement that allows a third party, or trustee, to hold assets on behalf of a beneficiary. You can be your own trustee until you pass away.
The articles below cover specific cases where experienced legal document preparation and maintenance would have avoided misunderstandings, animosity among heirs, or problems with probate.
In a trust-based estate plan, you appoint successor trustees. The trustee is involved in just about every aspect of the trust administration, from taking care of you and your trust if you are incapacitated (“disability trustee”) to administering your trust upon death (“death trustee”). The successor trustee role carries great responsibility. Most people choose someone […]
As we’re settling in to the New Year with our New Year’s resolutions already either forgotten or (hopefully) regularly scheduled and being followed, I have a challenge for all of my readers: no matter your level of wealth or marital status, you should have in place at least the basics of an estate plan, thereby […]
Many of our clients choose a living trust-based estate plan in order to avoid probate. Probate is avoided when assets are titled in the name of a living trust, and not in the trust maker’s names personally. The trust is administered privately by the successor trustees. Once a living trust is created, we go through […]
Question: My former husband, Mel, recently passed away. He and I have two sons together, one of whom is a drug addict. Mel created a last-minute revocable trust and a document that is called a will, but it does not leave assets to anybody. It just appoints me as the personal representative of his estate. […]
I recently received the following question from a reader of my Arizona Republic newspaper column: My mother recently passed away. She wrote a will, but to avoid probate she left her residence to my three siblings and me by a beneficiary deed, put her bank accounts into my name, and left a list for the distribution […]
[Download a PDF of this article: What to Do When Someone Dies] When a loved one passes away, it is an understandably stressful time. It can be even more stressful and/or traumatic trying to remember all of the details that must be taken care of related to a person’s death. If you are in charge of […]