Wills and Trusts

Wills and Trusts

Wills and Trusts

Wills
A will is a document created by the deceased during his lifetime that directs his assets to be distributed to beneficiaries upon his death.  The alternative to a will, and the default in the United States, is intestacy.  Intestacy means that your assets, at death, will be distributed to your heirs through your states laws of descent and distribution.  When creating a will, your estate planning lawyer will assess your family and friends that will be receiving bequests through your will.  Under a will the creator (knows as the testator) will direct his, or her, assets, including cash, personal property, real property and accounts to be distributed to certain individuals.  Every state has different rules when it comes to the requirements for a valid will.  There are requirements for the number of witnesses, whether or not the witnesses can be named in the Will, who must be present at the signing of a Will, how the Will is drafted, how a Will can be destroyed, and when a new Will is valid.

Trusts
A trust is an agreement that places the ownership and management of any property in the hands of another party. Trusts make it possible for people to ensure that their estate will be administered ethically and later given to the beneficiaries listed by the creator of the trust.  In the United States, trusts are legal agreements between two or more parties that permit those other parties to manage assets for their growth and benefit.  Trusts are created for the personal intentions of the trust’s creator (knows as the grantor). A grantor may choose to establish a trust to ensure the welfare of his or her children or to protect certain properties and assets. Regardless of the reason, the trust must still adhere to  legal statutes and be considered valid by a court.

The most common purposes for the creation of a trust are the planning and management of an estate, keeping personal and financial matters private, the protection of assets from outside parties (such as creditor). The creation of a trust permits another party manage and distribute the assets of an estate up to the death of the grantor of the trust and for a limited time afterwards.  Trusts also avoid private matters drafted in the trust instrument from being placed in public records. This appeals to many grantors of trusts so that creditors or the general public cannot inquire as to the value of someone’s estate.
Trust attorneys advise and educate clients about the types of trusts that can be created, draft trusts and submit them to courts for approval. Each of these steps is necessary for the legal implementation of a trust. Trust attorneys operate under state and federal regulations regarding the creation and operation of trusts.  Trust attorneys may make recommendations to their clients about which kind of trust is best suited to their needs.