Wills and Trusts
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.
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.