Estate Planning, Wills, Trusts, and Probate

Estate Planning

Although no one likes to think about dying, there are good reasons to prepare for this inevitable event by setting up a plan to distribute one’s estate after death. A person’s estate consists of all his or her property and possessions, and includes bank accounts, real estate, furniture, automobiles, stocks, bonds, life insurance policies, retirement...

Wills

A will is the most common document used to specify how an estate should be handled after death. Anyone designated to receive property under a will (or trust) is called a beneficiary. A will can be simple or elaborate, depending upon the size of the estate and the wishes of the person who makes it,...

Trusts

A trust is another frequently used estate planning device that manages the distribution of a person’s estate. Mechanics of a Trust To create a trust, the owner of property (grantor) transfers the property to a person or institution (trustee) who holds legal title to the property and manages it for the benefit of a third...

Probate

With few exceptions, the estate of a person who dies owning property in his or her name cannot legally be distributed without first going through probate. Only if all of a decedent’s property is held in joint tenancy with right of survivorship (pursuant to a written agreement) or in trust can survivors avoid probate. Probate...