Serious questions: Do you have a will? How about a trust?
Sad to say, chances are good that you don’t. According to a Caring.com survey conducted in 2020, only about 32% of adults in the United States had a will. That leaves about two-thirds of us forcing our loved ones to undergo the agony of grief, confusion and probate court to settle our affairs.
Having a will is good, but having a will and trust is way better. That’s because in most states, if a person dies and leaves a will, probate is required to legally implement the provisions of that will. One of the best and most popular ways to avoid probate is by setting up a revocable living trust. Upon death, assets in the trust are passed on to the trust beneficiaries with just the trust document. No probate is required.
How to Set Up a Will and Trust
Now you may be thinking that setting up a trust sounds like a complicated and expensive process. In fact, revocable living trusts do not have to be complex or expensive. Insureous has partnered with a nation-wide legal trust agency that streamlines the process, and greatly reduces the expense. The consultation with a legal trust attorney is done in two Zoom meetings of about 30 minutes each. You wind up with your last will and testament, revocable living trust, financial and medical power of attorney and health care directive in case of emergency. Contact us to arrange the initial meeting which is free and no-obligation.
Think of a will and trust as your personal time capsule … your game plan for what happens to your stuff after you’re gone. August is “National Make a Will” month, but any time of the year is perfect to start writing your estate plan. Let’s get started.
Benefits of Having a Will and Trust
The importance of crafting a will and trust cannot be overstated. It serves as a road map that outlines how you want your assets to be dispersed following your death. Beyond the confines of the law, having a will and trust gives you the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your goals will be upheld and your loved ones will be taken care of. By clearly stating your preferences, a will and trust also significantly reduces the likelihood of family disputes that can arise in the absence of precise instructions.
Understanding the Components of a Will
A will essentially spells out how you wish your possessions to be divided after your passing. The essential components include appointing an executor who manages your estate, a detailed list of beneficiaries, instructions on asset distribution, provisions for guardianship of young children, and, with the rise of social media, guidance on how to handle digital assets. Each element is crucial in ensuring that your intentions are carried out.
Choosing an Executor
An essential step in creating a will and trust is choosing an executor and trustee. This person will be in charge of seeing that your preferences, as stated in your will, are carried out. It’s critical to select a person who is reliable, well-organized, and equipped to handle the challenges that may occur during estate administration. Consider your executor to be your will and trust’s super hero.
Distribution of Assets
Where you want your assets to go is the central question of a will. Start by making a list of all of your bank accounts, personal property, investments and other valuables. Your revocable living trust will specify how your assets will be distributed among your beneficiaries and prevent any confusion and disputes.
Guardianship of Minor Children
Deciding who will take care of your minor children if you’re no longer around is another paramount consideration in making a will. This decision shapes the future of your children and their well-being in your absence. You must take the time to evaluate potential guardians based on their values, capabilities, and willingness to assume such a serious responsibility.
Dealing with Digital Assets
As technology continues to intertwine with our lives, it’s crucial to consider your digital presence when crafting a will. Ever thought about who’ll inherit your epic Twitter account or that digital library of bad dad jokes? Time to weave some code into your will so your online legacy isn’t lost in the digital abyss. Including guidelines for handling these assets can save your loved ones from navigating uncharted waters during an already challenging time.
Charitable Donations and Bequests
Many individuals choose to leave a charitable legacy by including donations and bequests in their wills. This allows you to sprinkle some goodwill fairy dust after you’re gone. By specifying your philanthropic intentions, you can leave a lasting impact on organizations that matter to you.
Potential Tax Implications
While crafting a will and setting up a trust, it’s wise to be aware of potential tax implications. You want your inheritance to be a gift to your loved ones, not a tax burden. Consider using tools like cash-value life insurance to fund a trust which will allow your death benefit to flow to your heirs tax free.
Updating Your Will and Trust
The same way that life isn’t static, neither should your will. Changes are a part of life, from new family members to modifications in one’s financial situation. Make sure you regularly review your will and trust and update them if necessary.
Legal Considerations and Professional Assistance
The legal intricacies of wills and trusts underscore the importance of seeking professional assistance. Engaging a legal expert ensures that your will adheres to legal requirements of your state. Enlisting the services of a lawyer helps you avoid potential pitfalls. Again, contact Insureous to arrange a free initial consultation with a trust attorney.
Conclusion: Taking Control of Your Legacy
Remember that your will and revocable living trust is your legacy, your final message to the world. Embrace the opportunity to shape your narrative, ensuring that your wishes are honored, and your loved ones provided for. Remember, “where there’s a will, there’s a way.”
By John Gerstner
Life, Health and Annunities Agent
Insureous Vice President