When considering estate planning matters, the number one issue on an individual's mind typically revolves around ensuring the maximum amount of wealth is passed on to heirs and beneficiaries. In most cases, simple estate planning documents including a will and trust are sufficient in ensuring assets pass directly to intended heirs and avoid the probate process.
When it comes to matters related to personal effects and who gets what, a will is often the most effective and comprehensive estate planning document. In addition to ensuring certain assets such as a home and property are passed to intended heirs, an individual can also use a will to determine guardianship of minor-aged children.
In addition to a will, depending on an individual's financial and life circumstances, a trust may be an appropriate estate planning tool. A testamentary trust can be included in a will to provide for a beneficiary. The assets held in the trust may be accompanied by instructions for their use and distribution and are often used in cases where an intended heir may have financial or personal problems.
In some cases an individual may choose to establish a living trust. Such a trust is active while an individual is still alive and can be used to help provide financially for heirs as well as protect the financial assets of heirs. For example, a living trust may be used to protect an heir's social security disability eligibility or to protect from debt and creditors.
Every individual's situation is different and many matters related to estate planning can and should be tailored to meet these unique goals. It's wise, therefore, that Florida residents contemplating estate planning matters contact an attorney for advice and assistence.
Source: Daily Finance, "Documents that Should be Part of Everyone's Estate Plans," Sep. 5, 2013