In the next few months I would like to give you a look at how you can get your Legal affairs in place. My goal is to educate you enough to help you determine specific documents you will need to put in place so that without a doubt you have handled all your details before you pass on to the next life and your loved ones can be rest assured. This is truly a wonderful way to show your family that you love and care about them even after death. I don’t want you to think about death as being bad in reality as Christians it is the beginning of a Beautiful Heavenly Life. So let’s keep this all on a positive note because no one really wants to deal with these issues but God blessed us with family and friends and we are to do our best with those blessings. With that being said I want to break these items out into small achievable sessions.
First we are going to talk about the differences in Wills…there is a lot of misconceptions on Wills. My misconception is that you choose one or another…but they actually all can be vital to planning your estate and each one has a different purpose. We are going to talk about those differences and I am also going to list a few pros and cons to each item which I am hoping will help you with your decision-making.
Let me also say that I am encouraging you to get your estate affairs planned but you may want to consult with an attorney if you do not feel comfortable with decision-making yourself. This is definitely something that both you and your spouse need to combine efforts on. I will admit that my husband was very reluctant to discuss these matters but a few events with friends and family evolved and showed us how important it is to get our legal affairs in place.
The purpose of the Last will is to distribute properties to beneficiaries. If you have young children it also designates a guardian in case both parents pass. It specifies your last wishes. It is a critical piece of your estate planning. Without one in many cases the Courts decide these decisions for the family.
Pros and Cons of a Will
Wills are relatively simple to create and require minimal maintenance once written. You can actually find a Fill in the Blank Will online. There are many resources to choose from and are free.
The State law allows any competent adult who understands the nature and disposition of his property to write a legally binding will. For small estates, a will is often the most viable option as they are inexpensive to draft and maintain and the formal process of dividing assets does not take much time.
The downside of a will is that it must be put through the probate process. This means that the personal representative named in the will must petition the court to open the descendant’s estate and file documents such as inventories of property with the court. The will itself becomes public record. Probate also costs money and, due to the slow nature of the judicial process, the matter may take months or years to resolve.
The purpose of a Living trust is to transfer property to beneficiaries. But unlike a last will, a living trust is not usually subject to probate court. It also does not designate a guardian for young children. A trust is a separate legal Entity, it is set up during the lifetime of the Grantor and is written in the form of a “Declaration of trust” which sets up how the trust is to operate and be distributed. The Grantor while living is both the “trustee” (decision maker) and the beneficiary until death. Which then trustees and beneficiaries named in the “Declaration” step in to handle the trust and decision making.
Pro’s and Con’s to a Living Trust
It avoids the Probate process which can cost valuable time and money for Court and Attorney fees. It also protects privacy in that the document does not become part of a public record.
The down side is that they can be expensive to set up and maintain. A “Pour over Will” will also need to be in place designating the properties to the “Living trust”. You will also need a “Supplementary Will” in place if you have young children which are designed to designate guardianship and provisions.
The purpose of a Living will is to designate how you want to be treated medically. You will also want to o designates a Medical power of Attorney in case you are unable to make medical decisions for yourself. This is definitely a critical document for your estate planning.
There are not any Cons to writing a living will. Whomever you choose to make these decisions for you make sure that it is someone you can fully trust and understands your medical needs and wants at time of death if a decision has to be made. A few of the questions are whether you want to remain on life support or not, do you want to be an organ donor. Etc.
You can download fillable forms for all three at www.rocketlawyer.com
Please feel free to check out a few other websites. There different versions of wills out there and you will want to pick one that fits your needs most.
Feel free to send questions. I am happy to help.