When you’re planning your estate, it’s absolutely essential that you have a last will and testament. After determining what steps you need to take to plan your estate, your lawyer can recommend either a trust-based or a will-based plan for you. Depending on which you choose, your last will is going to serve a different role. In this guide, you’ll learn about wills, trust-based and will-based plans.
In a will-based plan, the last will serves to tell who gets what after you pass away, and when they get it. For will-based estate planning, your last will covers four main parts:
• Who is in power over your estate as your executor or personal representative
In trust-based plans, the revocable living trust that you provide covers the same four main points that we just listed, but the person in charge of your estate after you die is called an administrative or a successor trustee. Even in these cases, you will still need to have a last will and testament because you’ll need to fund your trust so that it will be in place after you die.
If you fail to put ALL of your assets into the trust, the last will can catch what you forgot. In those cases, the testament is a “pour over” will, which means that it allows the asset to enter the trust through probate court. A pour over will only covers two points: Who is in charge of your unfunded estate portion after you die, and what rights they’ll have. If you have children, the will also provides for who will take them after your death.
Will based and trust-based plans have a few minor differences, but the intent of both is largely the same. Whichever plan you choose, it is meant to outline what you want to happen to your assets and your children after you pass on. Careful estate planning, consultation with a lawyer, and frank talks with your family is the best way to make sure that your wishes are carried out.
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