Do I need a trust as part of my estate plan?

Not every estate plan needs a trust. However, a trust can be an extremely beneficial estate planning tool and is often recommended, especially when real estate is part of the estate, when there are multiple heirs, and when minors or special needs dependents are involved.

A trust is similar to a Last Will and Testament in that it specifies how your property will be distributed, but it offers more flexibility and can be used to address more complex estate planning situations. A trust can also be used to manage and transfer assets and minimize tax liability while a person is still alive.

What documents are included in an estate plan?

A basic estate plan includes a Last Will and Testament or a Trust and associated documents, an Estate Planning Letter, a Property Power of Attorney, a Healthcare Power of Attorney, a Living Will, an Affidavit Authorizing Burial or Cremation and Request to Nominate Guardian. These documents give you control over how you will spend your final days, describe how your property will be transferred upon your death, and ensure that your wishes will be carried out if you are unable to carry them out on your own.

Your estate planning attorney may recommend a Trust or a Will. A Trust is similar to a Will in that it specifies how your property will be transferred, but a Trust offers additional privacy and increased flexibility to accommodate more complex estate planning situations.       

How can a lawyer help with my Will and estate plan?

A lawyer can help by drafting a Will and other estate planning documents, like a trust, a Property Power of Attorney, a Healthcare Power of Attorney, a Living Will, and other Advance Directives. A lawyer will also provide advice on how to title your assets to minimize your estate tax liability and ensure a smooth administration of your estate.

What is an estate?

Your estate is all the property you own at the time of your death. Your estate may include real property, like houses and investment properties, as well as personal property such as bank accounts, retirement accounts, and investment accounts, as well as jewelry, automobiles, and other items.

Why do I need an estate plan?

Estate planning allows you to control how your property is transferred to the people and organizations you care about most. Your estate plan provides instructions on how to transfer your property, including who will receive your property, what they will receive, and when they will receive it. An effective estate plan accomplishes these goals as quickly and efficiently as possible, with the least amount of money spent on taxes, legal fees, and court costs.