Wills and Trusts
The primary purpose of any will, trust, or estate planning document is to make sure that your assets are distributed to or held for those individuals or entities which you choose. In a will, you designate your beneficiaries so that upon your passing, your property can be distributed to your spouse, if surviving, or otherwise to your children. You can determine the percentage of the estate that any individual, charity, or other entity will receive. In the event your children or other beneficiaries predecease you, you should further designate alternate beneficiaries.
In a will, you also designate the individual(s) you want to act as the guardian for any minor children you may have. The guardian of the person is the individual who will have physical care and custody of your children, and the guardian of the estate will manage and distribute any money to or for your minor children. You also designate an executor to make sure all your assets are brought into the estate, all bills are paid, and the assets are distributed to the beneficiaries as you have set forth in the will.
In the event you do not want your children to receive property until after they are 18 years old, you can establish a trust either within the will or as a separate document. A trust allows you to have money distributed to the trustee, who then manages the funds until your children reach whatever age you specify. If you want the property to be held for them and used for their care until they turn 25 or 30 years old, you would set forth trust provisions stating that your children’s living expenses could be paid by the trustee until such time as your children reach the age you specified, at which time they will receive their lump sum distribution from the trust.
A trust also allows you to specify exactly what property will be paid to your children and under what circumstances. You can designate that the property be used to pay for their education, health care costs, and other welfare needs. Additionally, you may specify provisions allowing the trustee to distribute property to your children to start a business, buy a house, or facilitate almost any other action you would want to fund. You will need to name a trustee to manage your money in case you are incapacitated or die, as well as designate successor trustees to act in the event any of the other named individuals die or are otherwise unable to serve.
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If you are interested in learning more about wills, the trusts specified above, or other trust options such as a charitable remainder trust, qualified personal residence trust, insurance trust, or generation skipping trust, please email us or call one of our offices to schedule an appointment.