Most people know what a will is. It’s a written document that disperses your assets and provides a care plan for your dependents after you die. Not everyone knows what a trust is or how important both are for your family.
Generally speaking, a will is a document that goes into effect after you die, while a trust is in effect while you are alive and includes directives about your assets and the guardianship of minor children. Having a will and/or trust makes your wishes clear and legally makes them binding. Without a will or trust, things get tricky.
What happens if you have a will or trust?
- There are specific guidelines for the disbursement of your assets and the care of your minor children in the event of your death
- An executor of your choice is designated to oversee your estate and carry out your wishes
- The time frame for disbursement of your assets and action plan are swift
- Your wishes are legally binding and generally can’t be overturned
- Accounts can be managed and paid even after you die
What happens if you do not have a will or trust?
- Your assets are held while the courts sort out disbursement
- Someone else may have to incur costs to settle your estate
- Your wishes may not be fully known or preserved
- You can lose assets that aren’t protected
- Your children will not be protected for their care and custody
- Long periods of time may go by before your estate is settled
A will or trust can help make certain your wishes are carried out and that you don’t lose any assets that are part of your estate.
Creating a will or trust
There are a few ways to create a will or trust. A will can be created on your own. There are no-cost and low-cost ways to create a will. There are services that can walk you through the process of creating a will if your estate is modest and you don’t have a lot to manage.
Note: Writing a will isn’t as simple as sitting down with a Word doc. Once you’ve completed your will, it will need to be accompanied by a Self Proving Affidavit that is notarized. This legally ensures you are the author of your will and makes it easier for your family to enforce after your death.
The most secure way to create a will or trust is through an attorney. Probate and estate-planning attorneys can help you craft a will or trust that will be recognized by your state in the event of your death and make things easy on your family and beneficiaries.