Our Wills and Trusts Lawyers help you understand the purpose and importance of these important documents for your unique situation.
The Wills and Trusts lawyers in our firm are ready to provide estate planning services utilizing the following documents:
The basic purpose of a will is to specify where and to whom an individual’s assets will be bequeathed, and who will be appointed to carry out the testamentary intentions of the will.
A will is not a “one size fits all” document, and needs and wishes vary based on the individual situation of the client. If there are minor children, a guardian and/or trustee needs to be appointed. Do you wish to name a charity as a beneficiary? Are there special funeral or burial instructions? All of these scenarios and more can be fully discussed in order to prepare a customized estate plan.
Under certain circumstances a will may be declared invalid or the person may not have left a will. In either case, the person will have died intestate. In that instance, the distribution of the assets of the person’s estate will go according to the laws of the state in which the person resided. Dying intestate prevents a person from being able to select his/her heirs. Rather, it allows state laws to choose the heirs, who, would be blood relatives, might be people that the testator is not acquainted with or may not like.
A will also allows a person to decide who will serve as executor of the estate. The executor is the individual that distributes property to the beneficiaries in a manner decided by the testator. Without a proper executor named in the will, the court will appoint a stranger to serve as an administrator.
An important function of a will concerning families with minor children is to select an individual to serve as a guardian of those children in the event of the death of those parents. Failing to appoint a guardian for minor children in the will, will result in a court appointed guardian who may not be the personal preference of the parents and could even be a stranger. Working with lawyers who deal with wills regularly will ensure such grave mistakes do not happen.
Intervivos and testamentary trusts
A revocable inter vivos trust (or “revocable living trust”) is an estate planning tool which may be created as an agreement between the individual establishing the trust and a person or entity which will be responsible for the preservation and management of any assets placed into the trust. Common terms for the individual creating the trust is the Trustor or Settlor and the fiduciary appointed by the Trustor is commonly referred to as the Trustee. The term “revocable” means that the Trustor may either revoke or amend the Trust during his lifetime. Due to the emotional element of these trusts, it is recommended that they are established under the careful guidance of a living trusts lawyers.
Upon the death of an individual, a testamentary trust goes into effect. During his lifetime, the Trustor may desire to leave certain assets to a beneficiary, but wishes to restrict under what circumstances the beneficiary is to receive the bequest. Unlike Inter Vivos Trusts, Testamentary trusts are irrevocable and cannot be amended or revoked.
The tax rules relating to inheritance and Federal Estate Taxes many be very intricate and are subject to frequent revisions. When consideration a vehicle such as an Intervivos or Testamentary Trust, it is recommended to seek the advice of a legal professional.
Irrevocable and revocable Trusts
These two trust are both used as vehicles by which a Trustor may shelter or preserve certain assets for future beneficiaries and at the same time receive funds by way of income distribution during their lifetime. Depending on individual circumstances, the trust may be revocable or irrevocable based upon the wealth of the Trustor, specific needs of the Trustor or the beneficiaries.
Special Needs Trusts
A variety of reasons, whether they be physical, mental, or financial, may necessitate a Trustor to create a Special Needs Trust for the welfare of the beneficiary. Issues of income, state assistance, and welfare contribute greatly as to how the trust is drafted, and how the well-being of the beneficiary is maintained during his lifetime. Trusts such as these require a great deal of planning and detailed proficiency, and the assistance of a legal professional such as an attorney for wills and trusts is strongly indicated.
Individuals who own guns may have unique concerns pertaining to the disposition of their firearms following death. There are firearm transfer forms and ownership registering qualifications to be met in addition to drafting the specific instructions contained in the trust itself. A great deal of thought and planning must be used in order to properly complete the weapon transfers. Our firm has experience in creating such trusts and would be eager to assist any responsible gun owner who has concerns about the preservation of their weapons.
If you have been wondering whether you need to create a Will or set up a Trust, contact Carosella & Associates for a free no-obligation consultation with our Wills and Trusts Lawyers.