Estate Planning includes setting goals and objectives, then creating a plan to meet those goals and objectives. Your goals and objectives can be influenced by family circumstances such as providing for a child with special needs, unmarried partners, or having a blended family.
While there are some common parameters to estate planning, each plan is based on the needs of the individual client.
Wills are a foundation tool used to control the distribution of assets upon an individual's (testator) death. It is enforced through a process known as probate, where the court system monitors a Personal Representative during the administration of the estate. In addition to controlling the transfer of an individual's assets, the Will, is the primary tool used to nominate guardians to care for minor children and other family members whose challenges personally preclude them from handing financial assets.
Trusts are very popular in estate planning because property that is transferred by trust does not go through probate like a Will. So, the fees related to probate are reduced or avoided. Trusts can also be used to protect the assets of a person with disabilities or to lower the estate tax due for married couples with larger estates. Trusts can even be set up to care for a beloved animal after the death of the owner.