Do you need a Will or a Trust?
Whether a Will or a Trust is appropriate for you depends upon a number of factors. At Bardy Law, we meet with you on a complimentary basis, to review your situation, provide customized solutions typically at a fixed fee rate.
A Will expresses your wishes to a personal representative with regard to your probate estate. A Will becomes an enforceable document only upon your death and only upon acceptance by the county where you were domiciled at your death. To gain your county’s acceptance your Will needs to meet the requirements of that county for admission to Probate.
Probate is the process a county goes through prior to admitting your Will as a valid expression of your wishes with regard to your probate estate. Probate can be a relatively simple process or a very complex process depending upon your situation at the time of your death.
Probate is always a public process; meaning that information filed with a probate court, including your net worth and the names and addresses of your loved ones is almost always information that is available to the public should they choose to pursue the information.
A Revocable Trust is defined as a Will substitute. The purpose of a Trust is to avoid probate which in turn keeps your estate administration private upon your death. A revocable trust, if properly funded, avoids the expense and the public nature of probate. In addition, a revocable trust, in the event that you become disabled or incapable of managing your finances, allows you to appoint a successor or co-trustee who is then able to handle your finances while you are still alive and in need of services.
In addition to either a Will or a Trust, a sound estate plan typically includes a financial power of attorney which allows a person you name to sign your name on financial instruments if you are unable to sign. A financial power of attorney may be drafted as a very limited purpose document or it may be drafted as a very broad document.
A health care directive is another document very useful to have. A health care directive allows you to appoint someone to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to act on your own behalf.