If you've started estate planning or are considering doing so, you've likely come across two terms more than any others: wills and trusts. These two documents provide protection for an individual's overall estate and the legacy the individual ultimately leaves behind. But each document provides that protection in different ways and offers some distinctive benefits in the process.
A will is essentially a blueprint for how you want your estate divided after death. You can name beneficiaries to inherit your assets and property, nominate guardians for minor children, and appoint an executor to oversee the administrative aspects of resolving the estate. All wills must pass through the probate process, in which local courts verify the authenticity of the document and take stock of all the assets the deceased person owned.
A will can be changed and amended at any time by the signatory during his or her life, and the terms of all wills become a matter of public record. Drawing up a will with an attorney experienced with wills and trusts is an affordable way to have a say in the legacy you leave for your loved ones and the world.
Trusts, also called living trusts, are documents in which an individual transfers ownership of specific property while they are still alive. The property is owned by the trust itself until the individual passes away; it then transfers to the beneficiary the individual has designated. This is the sole task of a trust. By establishing one, the property owned by the trust is not subject to the sometimes lengthy and costly probate process. Unlike a will, which is enacted upon your death, the terms of a living trust are enacted upon signing.
A trust is a good option for those wishing to maintain some privacy surrounding their legal and financial affairs as the terms of the document are kept confidential. While a trust can be more expensive to set up, it pays for itself in lower probate costs further down the road.
To start designing the will and trust best suited to your estate and its needs, trust James H. Sickelco, Attorney at Law. Since 1979, he has been representing Rochester and Spencerport, New York-area clients in estate planning, probate law, and family law issues, to name just a few of his practice areas. Call (585) 546-3820 or visit him online to schedule a consultation, and start getting the peace of mind that comes with taking care of your estate and your loved ones.