Estate Planning—Wills and Other Documents

Estate Planning involves taking the proper steps to plan for your death, including making major decisions relating to asset distribution as well as health care decisions.  Estate Planning generally includes the use of a will, a health care power of attorney, a living will, and perhaps other documents such as a power of attorney or a trust.

Wills - the Distribution of Assets

In the event of your death, it is important that your estate plan includes a will.  A will, which is sometimes referred to as a last will and testament, is a document that allows you to control the distribution of the assets in your estate.  Without a will in place, your estate will be distributed pursuant to intestacy, which is the name given to the laws that control the transfer of assets when a person dies without a will.  Under intestacy, an estate will be distributed pursuant to statute, which may or may not match with the desires of the deceased party.  For this reason, it is important that you seek the advice of an experienced estate planning attorney to assist you in developing a will that carries out your wishes properly.

Wills - As Simple or Complex as You Need

A will does not have to be complex and instead can be a simple document that sets forth the manner in which to divide your assets.  The terms of your will can be as simple as leaving everything to your spouse, but alternatively could be complex with many specific bequests to various individuals and an unequal distribution to your beneficiaries (who are the person or persons who inherit under your will).  A properly drafted will can also ensure that taxes are minimized.  Regardless of how simple or complex, a will needs to identify the person or persons that you chose to be the executor of your estate, which is the title given to someone who manages your estate upon death.

Wills - Trust Provisions

A will can be used to leave your assets to a “living” Trust that can distribute assets pursuant to the trust provisions while you are still living.  This type of “living” trust, also called an Inter Vivos Trust, can be set up to be modifiable at any time while the creator is still alive.  After the creator’s death, the trust becomes irrevocable, which means that it can’t be modified.  A will can also provide for a Testamentary Trust that would be formed upon the creator’s death and would distribute assets according to the trust provisions.  A Testamentary Trust is irrevocable after the creator’s death.

A will should also contain provisions for your wishes about the care of any minor children, such as who you want to act as guardians to care for the children, and should name trustees who you want to be responsible for the financial management of your children’s estate. This can be the same person or different people, depending on your wishes.

No matter how much wealth you have you should ensure that your final wishes are carried out as your desire through your last will and testament. We can help you determine what kind of will your estate requires and help you create an estate plan that clearly and efficiently carries out your wishes.

Contact our office for a consultation and we can guide you through the process to create an estate plan tailored to your personal circumstances and needs. Our team of estate attorneys is experienced in the areas of estate planning and can assist you in understanding the long-term impact your decisions may have. Collectively, our team brings a century of legal experience to your legal needs. Call us at 336-379-1390 to schedule your consultation today.

Practice Section Lawyers

R. Thompson Wright

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Albert L. Saslow

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(336) 379-1390

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