Deciding on a Living Trust or Last Will to designate your property.

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The cold hard truth is that if you don’t prepare an estate plan (designate your property), the court gets to decide not only how your property will pass to relatives and other loved ones but also who will take guardianship over your children. If die, without a will the probate court divides up the assets based upon the statute of intestacy, which provides an order of priority among relatives. The courts will give no thoughts to how well you got along with “Uncle Bill” or if your “middle son” did more in your business and should be given the opportunity to run it when you are no longer able. Given the import of these decisions, it truly is critical that you put something down on paper in a Last Will or in a Living Trust so that nothing is left to chance and your wishes are followed exactly. 

A Last Will is one type of estate plan that enables you to designate everything from property to guardianship. It cannot be stated enough how important it is if you have small children or you are caring for a disabled loved one that requires special care that you put something down on paper so that guardianship is settled clearly and there are no family conflicts down the road. In simple terms, a will allows you to specifically designate how your property will be distributed among family members, business associates and others with whom you have close relationships. Everything from your favorite set of collectibles, to your homes and recreation property can be designated so that your loved ones are taken care of according to your wishes, rather that the state determining who gets what. You can also further protect your family by making arrangements so that your bank and retirement accounts are transferable on death to avoid probate and save additional costs to your relatives in the end.

Like a Last Will, a Living Trust also enables you to provide for guardianship and distribution of property. The biggest advantage of a trust is that you can completely avoid probate which can be costly and time-consuming dragging out the distribution of your assets as the courts will have to sign off on them. Many do not realize that court fees for probating an estate can often run as high as 10% of the gross estate, not to mention the additional costs that will be incurred from missing work, tracking down paperwork and appointments with your legal counsel. More importantly, probate can take many months depending on the size and complexity of the estate which can often be burdensome on family members. With a Living Trust, you can help to avoid probate altogether. Further, if you have high net worth, trusts are the best way legally to minimize the estate taxes that your beneficiaries will be left to pay out of your estate.

At Tindall Law Firm, LLC we have very experienced attorneys in preparing these documents and can assist in helping you document your wishes. Please contact us with any questions on this topic or any other legal issues by calling us at (203) 755-0018 or visiting us online at with all your legal needs.