Avoid passing on the stress and frustration to your loved ones by keeping the courts out of your affairs after your death with a living trust. A living trust is different from a will as it is created while you are still alive and it gives you the freedom to control the distribution of your finances, estate and other wealth assets to those you wish. Unlike wills that become effective upon your death, living wills are effective as soon as you sign the documents.
Aside from finances and properties, a living trust also gives clarity on how you wish to be treated in the unfortunate incident that you become too ill and unable to make decisions about your health care. For example, in the incident that you fall into a vegetative state, you can choose whether you should be resuscitated or not. You may consult with your family doctor regarding the medical options.
Though both wills and living trusts provide a “plan” regarding the distribution of assets after your death, the advantage of having a living trust is that it is not subject to probate proceedings. A regular will has to pass through probate court before the estate can be passed on to the beneficiaries. It may take a period of months or even years for the will to be processed, especially if disputes arise regarding the finances and wealth assets. The longer the period, the more money is consumed.
Other advantages of a living trust is that is can be amended at any time, no court supervision is needed upon the instance that a dispute is raised, and the contents of the living trust remain private (with wills, it becomes public record upon your death).
Though it costs less to draft a will, a living trust gives more security and benefits as it can help you save time and a substantial cost by avoiding probate costs. Living trusts also lessen the amount that is taxed on home property.
When creating a living trust you should prepare the following documents: a durable power of attorney for health care, durable power of attorney for assets, competency clause, nomination of conservator, guardianship for minor children and living will. Tip. There are templates of living trusts available online.
Whether you will draft a will or a living trust, one should seek legal help, especially if a lot of money (more than $100,000) and property is involved. A lawyer can help you write your living trust clearly so that no problem arises regarding the legality of property, transfers and such. An attorney is also suggested for persons with complex family structure (For example, individuals with many children out of wedlock or numerous marriages). Beware of scam artists who claim to have experience in estate-planning. Check online for registered attorneys who specialize in legal claims.
If you would like to draft your living trust without any legal assistance, you can do that too! There are numerous books available in bookstores and online sources to help you with easy-to follow instructions as well as helpful worksheets. One extremely helpful book is Make your own Living Trust by Attorney Dennis Clifford.
Don’t be afraid of death. It is inevitable, which is why one must prepare for it. Drafting your will and living trust can avoid any future confusion and anxiety for the family left behind.