Did you know that you have an estate? Everything you own is a part of your estate: your home, your car, your bank accounts, your investments, your personal possessions, and more. To ensure that your estate is transferred according to your wishes after your death, it is important to create a comprehensive and legally enforceable strategy for it through estate planning.
The estate planning attorneys at the Law Offices of Craig L. Cook have extensive experience in estate planning and will ensure that your plan is meticulously prepared to accurately carry out your wishes and maximize benefits for your beneficiaries. We understand that your family, your goals, and your finances are unique, and we will ensure that your estate plan reflects your specific circumstances.
You’ve worked hard to obtain your assets. Let us help you protect them.
Estate planning is a process that covers the transfer of property at death as well as a variety of other personal matters. It may include several important documents, including a will, trusts, powers of attorney, health care proxies, and advanced medical directives. If you don’t create an estate plan, your state’s probate laws will determine how your assets are distributed – and you probably won’t like your state’s plan. Since you have the choice, wouldn’t you prefer to handle these matters yourself?
Although estate plans vary in size and complexity, all contain a will or a trust:
Also referred to as a Last Will and Testament, a will is a legal document that provides instructions regarding how an individual’s property and the custody of their children (if any) should be handled after their death.
You will describe your wishes in the document and then designate a trustworthy person (known as the executor) to fulfill your stated intentions. A will lets you decide how your assets will be distributed after your death: when, to whom, and under what circumstances. There are drawbacks to a will, however: your estate will become public record, your assets must go through probate court, and the probate process can be costly and stressful. To avoid these drawbacks, some people choose to create trusts.
A trust is a legal arrangement through which assets are held for beneficiaries. The person who creates the trust (also known as the grantor, settlor, or trustor) designates a trustee, who will manage the assets according to the grantor’s wishes. Trusts are often used to minimize or eliminate taxes, to avoid probate court, to lower attorney fees and court costs, and to save time.
There are two main types of trusts: revocable (living) trusts and irrevocable trusts. A revocable trust is created during the grantor’s lifetime and can be modified or revoked at any time prior to the grantor’s death. An irrevocable trust is created during the grantor’s lifetime or upon his or her death under the terms of a will or another trust, and it typically cannot be changed or revoked.
Estate planning is for everyone – not just the old, wealthy, and retired. Too many people put off creating an estate plan because they don’t think they need one, they don’t want to think about their own death, they’re confused about the process, or they don’t know where to start. Unfortunately we cannot predict how long we will live, and if you don’t prioritize creating and maintaining an estate plan now, your family may be forced to sort out the complicated and stressful details after your death.
So contact the Law Offices of Craig L. Cook today. Your knowledgeable, friendly estate planning attorney will walk you through the process and help you communicate your wishes clearly, avoid mistakes, minimize taxes, and modify your plans when your circumstances change.