Planning for your future is an important process. You have built a life you are proud of and want to ensure that your assets are protected, your family has their needs met, and your end-of-life wishes are fulfilled. Estate planning tools, such as wills and trusts, are a way to accomplish that goal.
It is easy to misunderstand estate planning and assume it is only for the wealthy. While it is important for wealthy individuals to ensure that their homes, business holdings, and other assets are handled correctly at the end of their life, estate planning is a powerful tool for anyone, regardless of their wealth. A skilled estate and trust litigation attorney from Hinojosa & Forer LLP can help you understand the various estate planning tools at your disposal and how each one can benefit you and your family.
Estate planning is the process of determining:
There are many tools that can be used while you are creating your estate plan.
An estate planning attorney can work with you to create a trust that will own any assets or properties until the agreed-upon date. You may instead choose to write a will to outline all your wishes for the end of your life, including how your funeral will be handled, what family members will receive assets from your estate, and more. Understanding the common estate planning tools can help make the overall process easier.
When you start estate planning, there are many tools available for your benefit. If you want to protect specific assets and keep them out of probate court, a trust may be the right thing. These are legal entities that will take ownership of any assets as soon as they are retitled. In the instance that you only need a legally binding document to ensure your wishes are fulfilled, you can create a will, which will only be effective when you pass. Whichever estate planning tool you choose, the most common types fall into two main categories:
Both a will and a trust must be completed through a process that can be confusing and somewhat overwhelming. The individual creating it will have to make important decisions about:
There are many things that must be dealt with when a loved one dies, like funeral plans and dividing their estate. Facing the hassle of probate court in addition to that can be stressful and costly, so some people create a trust in order to avoid probate.
When someone dies, their estate will be overseen by the probate court, even if they have a will in place. This is the court system that ensures an estate is fairly or properly divided before it can be closed. When an individual dies without any sort of estate planning in place a representative from the court will divide their estate with no input from family. Planning for the end of your life can help your family avoid these additional stressors.
When you create a will, it allows you to clearly outline your wishes, including how your assets will be divided and any funeral plans you want. In addition to this, however, you are also able to name an individual, called an executor, who will be responsible for carrying out your wishes. This selection lets you avoid a court-appointed representative so your loved ones can have a voice in closing your estate. Even with a will in place, however, your loved ones will be required to pay any necessary fees, file with probate, and have your will carried out according to the probate process. If you have established a trust for your assets, you will not have to go through probate.
Estate planning is an important process that can help you protect your assets and provide for your loved ones. Creating a will or establishing a trust to ensure your end of life wishes are met, however, does not mean that there will be no problems. Issues with probate, confusion over unclear instructions in a trust or will, and disputes between unhappy family members can all lead to litigation.
Litigation related to the estate of a deceased individual is the process of determining what steps to take if they did not have a will or their will is found to be invalid. Trust litigation may be necessary if there is a dispute or some kind of unresolved issue with an established trust when the creator dies. An experienced trust and litigation attorney from Hinojosa & Forer LLP can guide you through the litigation and fight for the ideal outcome.
The property and assets that you own during your life are referred to as your estate. If you die without any plan in place for how your assets and property will be divided, the law dictates that the courts will assign an individual to oversee the division of assets. Estate planning by creating a trust, however, allows you to choose how your estate will be distributed among your loved ones.
The beneficiary of a trust is the person who will receive any assets included in the trust. When the trust goes into effect, either in the event of the creator’s death or when the trust is established, the beneficiary will receive a copy of it. They are also able to request any financial information about the trust, such as its value and how it has been maintained. Finally, when the correct terms are met, the beneficiary will receive any assets left to them.
Establishing a trust allows you to have a say in how your estate is divided and avoid the frustrations of probate, but there are also some disadvantages. Creating a trust often takes more time and money than a will because you will have to pay any costs associated with retitling your assets. You will also lose access to any assets that you put into a trust because they become sole property of the trust once they are included. Any assets included in a trust are also not protected from debt collectors and could be seized to pay any outstanding debts when you pass.
Whether a trust can override a will is often determined by the type of trust that is established. In many cases, a trust that has been established will supersede a will, or it may serve the same function as a will. A trust can carry more legal weight than a will because it is an entirely separate legal entity that has ownership of the assets included in it. In addition to that, a trust is functional before the death of the person who creates it, whereas a will is only effective once the creator has died.
When a loved one dies with no will, trust, or estate plan in place, the process of closing their estate can be complicated and frustrating. This often causes conflict among family and loved ones over who should receive certain assets, which could lead to legal trouble. Estate planning is a great way to ensure that your wishes are carried out and avoid some family conflict. Establishing a trust can allow you to protect valuable or personally significant assets by dictating who you believe should receive them.
Regardless of whether you have a will in place or established a trust, a skilled trust and estate litigation attorney can be an invaluable asset. They understand the legal processes connected with estate litigation, have the experience to navigate any conflicts that arise, and can relieve some of the stress of probate court. If you want to establish a trust, have a conflict over a loved one’s estate, or need litigation assistance, an experienced attorney can help guide you through the process and work through any disputes. No matter what your estate planning needs are, the team at Hinojosa & Forer LLP is here to help. Contact our office today to get started.