It can be hard to know where to begin when it comes to estate planning. Deciding what documents to include in your estate plan can often be the hardest part. Generally, an estate plan should include a will, as it often serves as an all-encompassing document that handles a person’s affairs and assets. Many estates also benefit from having at least one trust. An estate planning attorney in Texas can help evaluate your needs based on your assets and life circumstances.
Wills vs. trusts
Generally, wills and trusts are both estate planning tools used for transferring or distributing a person’s estate once they have passed away.
Wills allow you to appoint an executor to carry out the instructions of the will once you are gone, appoint a guardian for children, and name beneficiaries for your various assets. Any property listed in the will generally stays in your name until you have passed away, as the will only becomes effective when you die.
Wills generally requires a probate proceeding, which can be costly, cause delays, and result in a lack of privacy, as the will is generally available to the public. However, there are ways to simplify the process and limit the length of time and costs of the probate process. The publicity of the will also encourages honesty and transparency among all parties involved.
Trusts can be used for a variety of purposes, depending on the needs of your family. Generally, the trust will hold title to a property for a beneficiary and the property will be distributed based on the terms of the trust. Revocable trusts can be amended throughout the grantor or creator’s lifetime, while irrevocable trusts cannot be changed. Living trusts are created when the grantor is living, and any property in the trust does not have to go through the probate process. Trusts allow you to protect your assets and may save you money in the long run, but it can be more costly to create. Also, once the property title transfers to the trust, it no longer belongs to you.
Wills and trusts can both be beneficial to your estate plan. An estate planning attorney can help create a plan that protects you and your family in the long run.