Did you know that more than two-thirds of Americans don’t have a will in place? Therefore, if you have been thinking about crafting a will but are self-conscious about speaking to a lawyer about doing so because you have put it off for quite a long time, don’t be shy. Not only are you not alone in putting off this critically important task, by the very nature of your desire to get this task accomplished, you’ll be ahead of the majority of your peers.
One of the things you’ll want to speak with a lawyer about when discussing the fundamentals of state planning is the benefit of creating a will and the benefit of creating a revocable living trust. Each of these estate planning documents will allow you to dictate how your assets and property are distributed in the event of your death. However, they are unique legal tools and are associated with various upsides and downsides.
As an experienced Knoxville, TN probate lawyer – including those who practice at Carpenter & Lewis PLLC – can confirm, wills are a critically important part of the estate planning process. Unless you choose to create a revocable living trust, you should have a will in place, regardless of your age or income level. You should also keep the terms of your will current, as the enforceability of this document could be called into question after your death if you haven’t updated it in light of major life events (divorce, the birth of a child, the death of a beneficiary, etc.) or major purchases (real estate, collector items, etc.).
A will is relatively simple to execute and the benefits of taking the time to execute one far outweigh the effort involved. Without a will in place, the state will decide where all of your physical and digital assets will go when you die. There are very few people who like when the government tells them what to do with their property while they’re alive, so it’s a shame that so few people realize that the state will dictate the distribution of their property in death if they don’t have a will or revocable living trust in place. If you don’t want the state managing everything from your favorite stuffed toys from childhood to your bank account funds to access to your social media accounts, work with a lawyer to draft a simple will.
Revocable Living Trust
Unlike a will, which simply insists upon how someone’s assets should be distributed upon their death, a revokable living trust holds assets and directs their income to the trust creator during their lifetime. Upon the trust creator’s death, these assets are distributed to named beneficiaries. Why go through the hassle of setting up this estate planning resource? Doing so will allow your loved ones to avoid the probate process, which can be stressful, time-intensive, and expensive. Setting up a trust in this way can also have tax benefits, so it is an option worth exploring.