Estate and Trust Planning
Our office understands that estate planning is an ongoing process that changes with our
clientsâ€™ needs during the course of their lifetime.
Proper estate planning not only puts you in charge of your finances, but it can also spare your loved ones the expense, delay, and frustration associated with managing your affairs when you pass away or become disabled. At our office, we provide assistance in this important area of planning to ensure that you are putting together the best plan available to achieve the objectives you present.
When it comes to estate planning, most people are familiar with the basic concept of a Last Will and Testament. This document is designed to direct the distribution of the assets of your estate according to your wishes. It should also specify whom you would like to appoint to serve as your fiduciaries to handle the administration. If you have minor children, one of the most important reasons to have a Last Will is to select the guardian(s) for your minor children. If you have disabled beneficiaries, pets, second marriages or minor children there may also be the need to include a testamentary trust to have a trustee manage funds for a period of time. However, a comprehensive estate plan should address much more than that. You should also consider addressing health care and incapacity issues through the creation of a Durable Property Power of Attorney, a Durable Health Care Power of Attorney and a Living Will (Declaration of a Desire for a Natural Death).
In some cases, it may be more advantageous for you to consider the creation of a revocable living trust as your primary estate plan. A revocable trust is an estate-planning tool that is used to either supplement or replace a Last Will or to help manage a personâ€™s property during life. There are various reasons for creating a trust. The creation and proper funding of such a trust will enable you to avoid the probate process involved in the administration of a Last Will and Testament. A decedentâ€™s Will is usually probated, a process that makes the document and any details it contains about the personâ€™s assets a matter of public record. Creation of a trust will provide the family with privacy as it relates to the trust assets and the trust distribution terms in that it is a confidential
document and not subject to public record.
If the management of assets or distribution control are of concern, a trust can assist in both of these areas through the appointment of a trustee and the structuring of a comprehensive distribution plan through the terms of the trust agreement.
The process of creating a trust starts with you, the trustor, signing the trust agreement you have designed, transferring legal ownership of your property to the trustee, who in turn manages the assets for the beneficiary. From start to finish, creating a trust is a simple process, but it is essential to get all the details correct and working with a knowledgeable attorney will make all the difference.
Questions you have about which estate plan structure is the best fit for you and your family can be easily answered by Attorney Christine J. Sylvester who has years of experience not only creating such plans but also following those plans through the administration and ultimate distribution process.