Sign Up for The Lifson Law Newsletter
Columbia Wills and Trusts Attorney
Wills and trusts are tools to direct the passing of property to family and loved ones. Without appropriate documents, at death property could potentially pass according to the state law of intestacy. Such a result may prevent the people or charities you care about from receiving anything from your estate.
A will is usually the foundation of an estate plan. It is important to keep a will current to reflect your wishes as life’s circumstances change. For example, what may have worked well for a young married person may no longer be appropriate for a single older person with adult children.
A trust can also be created to pass your property to another or to manage your property in a specific fashion. In essence, a trust is a distinct legal entity and arises when real or personal property is held by one party for the benefit of another. A trust implies two interests: one legal, where a trustee holds legal title, and the other equitable, where the beneficiary of the trust receives the use of the property in the trust. Trusts can come into existence during your lifetime or after you die. Trusts can be extremely flexible and if drafted properly, can help accomplish many important goals.
In addition to containing your specific wishes, to be valid, wills and trusts must be executed properly. Such documents should also be drafted consistent with the requirements of the law and be created with an eye toward the impact of federal, state, and inheritance taxes on your estate.
While often overlooked in estate planning, it is also critical to ensure that beneficiary designations forms for certain assets (typically insurance plans, Individual Retirement Accounts, and pension benefits) match your wishes and fit in with your overall plan. Absent careful coordination of beneficiary designations through the correct completion of the appropriate forms, significant assets may be passed from you to an unwanted beneficiary after your death.
Thoughtful planning through the creation of your will and trust yields a wonderful dividend: peace of mind.