You might think of a will as a once-and-done document, but if more than ten years passed since you wrote it, you need to update it. More importantly, if you haven’t yet created a last will and testament and established a trust, you need to do so regardless of your age.
Perhaps you already wrote your will but have yet to establish either a revocable or irrevocable trust to protect your assets. You can do this when you update your will document.
What Happens to Your Assets When You Die
You need both the will and testament and trust because when you write and file a will and testament alone, you leave the distribution of your assets to the probate court. This means it could take six months to a year for your beneficiaries to receive the assets you left to them. They may receive your life insurance payment before then, but everything remains in limbo until the probate court closes the case.
Probate Can Freeze Assets
Also, the probate court can freeze assets until distributed. To add a third concern, if a will goes to probate, any person can file a claim on your assets. A fourth cousin, your former spouse, creditors, etc. This reduces the amount that your beneficiaries receive because probate honors any valid and legal request.
The Testament Confirms Your Good Health
Planning your estate does require a will and testament. The will defines how you want your assets distributed. The testament confirms your good mental and physical health at the time of the writing of the will.
The courts require this legal statement to ensure that other parties cannot take advantage of a mentally incapacitated person and that you did not rashly make decisions based on a diagnosis of a sudden illness. If you’ve ever attended a will reading, you may recall that “of sound mind and sound body” part.
That’s part of the testament.
The Will Establishes Your Wishes
In the will, you list your assets and essentially gift each one to another person or an organization. You may also define the care you wish for your children and pets to receive.
The will contains the names of the individuals who will act as the guardian for your minor child or children if their other parent already died or cannot care for them due to illness or incapacity.
The Trust Carries Out Your Wishes
Without a trust to protect your assets while you live and distribute them after your death, the court does not have to follow your will’s wishes. Any party with merit can contest your will when it goes to probate.
When you establish either an irrevocable trust or a revocable trust, you protect your assets, and the trustee of the trust immediately distributes your assets when you die. This means that your family has continuous means to live on and control of the property in which they reside as long as you own it and place it in the trust.
Contact The Pacella Law Group for Estate Planning
The Pacella Law Group has served the Calabasas, CA area with estate planning, probate litigation, business planning and trust administration services for more than 15 years. Let our experience and expertise guide your estate planning process. Contact us today or visit our offices at 5000 N. Parkway Calabasas, Calabasas, CA 91302.