Far too many Americans do not have a last will, a trust or a secure estate plan in place for when they die. In fact, according to a recent study, as many as 58 percent of Americans don’t have a last will, living trust or estate plan. Without at least one of these in place, an accident or sudden illness could throw your assets into probate court or worse: into the possession of the government instead of your intended heirs.
Of course, if you have taken the step of creating a living trust, detailed estate plan or last will, you may think you’ve finished with that aspect of planning. Nothing could be farther from the truth!
In reality, the more assets you have, the more important it is to have an estate plan, living trust or last will that is regularly updated. Things in life change quickly. A charity you once trusted may now have a reputation for huge executive salaries and little social impact.
You or your children may have married, divorced or remarried. You may have lost a child, spouse or grandchild unexpectedly, or there may be new additions to your family. It is important that your estate plan or last will is updated to include the most up-to-date information about your family, assets and final wishes, including medical decisions.
A living trust can protect your assets and medical wishes
When you create a living trust instead of a simple last will, you empower someone you trust to handle your estate, as well as critical medical decisions when you are incapable of making them. A living trust can be beneficial if you work with an experienced trust and probate attorney for its creation. In fact, your trust can be revocable, changeable and enforceable if you are medically indisposed. You can always get rid of your trust, but it can offer you great protections and peace of mind once it’s in place to protect you and your assets. Unlike last wills, your trust won’t require frequent updates for accuracy.
Your trustee will be in a position to make decisions about assets, whether some of the initial assets have since sold or your portfolio has grown substantially since creating your living trust. There can be some expense involved in creating a trust, but generally the price is the same no matter how complex the trust itself is or your various assets are.
An attorney is critical, whether you’re creating a will or a trust
When you want to ensure that your last wishes are honored and legally enforceable, working with an experienced probate, estate and trust attorney is key. Your attorney will be able to help you create a legally sound document that protects you, your intentions and your heirs in the event of an illness, accident or other incapacitating event. A trust is one of the best ways to ensure that your estate doesn’t end up stuck in probate court, contested by someone you trust.