What Do We Mean By Wills and Estates?
It is inevitable that we all will die. Upon our death, we should be sure our final wishes and debts are properly handled. Therefore, estate planning is crucial to everyone. It is imperative to execute a Will, a Living Will, and if necessary, set up trust funds, as well as sometimes giving someone who we trust Power of Attorney over out estate.
What Are the Purposes of These Different Types of Documents?
Last Will and Testament allows you, the Testator/Testatrix, to give any part of your estate to whomever you choose. It can be as specific as you like with regard to percentages of your holdings, property division, etc., i.e. who will get Grandma's engagement ring or Grandpa's gold watch, who will take care of your children, down to the exact manner in which you wish your body to be disposed.
A Living Will allows you to dictate to your doctors and loved ones how you choose to be medically treated i.e., whether or not you choose to be kept alive on life support and/or whether you wish to donate any of your organs, etc.
Power of Attorney gives another person or entity the responsibility of overseeing all of your affairs should you be incapacitated.
Trusts permit you to set aside and handle a beneficiary's inheritance the way you wish until such a time that individual is of an age to handle the monies independently. In the case of an incompetent party, a Trust can be established to sustain them financially throughout that individuals life by appointing a Trustee.
Although there is no time limit on when a person should begin estate planning, it is highly recommended that any person who holds title to any property, stocks, valuables, etc., and especially those who have children should execute, in the very least, a Last Will and Testament. Dying intestate (without a Will) causes great problems for your survivors and gives the government the right and responsibility of disbursing your estate. With the proper estate planning your estate can be settled within 3 to 6 months after your death.
These documents never expire. They can only be replaced with updated, proper executions of new documents. However, if no changes are made, then your most recent Last Will and Testament remains effective.
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. Do a Guardian and Trustee have to be the same person?
No. Although they can be the same person, the party you choose to care for your child(ren) or dependent individual(s) may not be financially savvy and therefore you may consider appointing a Trustee to handle the finances.
2. Does a Will ever need to be updated?
Yes. You should execute a new Will if any major life changes occur, i.e., you have more children, you move, you acquire additional holdings, more than one of your beneficiaries or named parties die before you, you become seriously ill, etc.