Wills and Trusts

Making a will in an important step in your financial management program. To save your heirs time and money, plan now for the orderly transfer of your property.

In this way the cost of a bond and possible disagreement among those who are to receive your property may be avoided. You decide to whom, when, and in what amounts your assets should go. You select your executor or personal representative, the one who shall be responsible for the disposition of the estate. You may avoid forced sale of your property, or costly and tedious applications to courts for the right to sell it. You have greater assurance that your plans will be carried out as you desire.

One way to guarantee trouble to a family is not to make a will. Court records bulge with tragic tales of families torn apart and caused immeasurable pain and financial expense because the income producer did not do so.

Without a will your estate must be distributed according to the intestate laws, the provisions of which are general and inflexible. The law will say show shall administer your estate, among whom, and how it shall be divided. By losing the privilege of naming your executor or personal representative, you may make a costly mistake. Your property may not be distributed as you wish, and thus cause hardship for those you want to safeguard most. Without a will you lose the privilege of naming a guardian for your minor children. This is vital, particularly if your spouse should not survive you. If you leave no immediate family, failure to leave a will may result in your property going to persons in whom you have no particular interest.

Wills are not do-it-yourself projects. Secure the services of an attorney. Although many prepared without legal aid have been successfully executed, the risk is too great. A minor detail may invalidate your good intentions.

Estate Tax Planning

Living trusts can incorporate complex estate tax planning for married individuals, including the division of assets at the death of the grantor into separate trusts to maximize the use of the grantor’s federal estate tax unified credit. Those amounts placed into the credit shelter trust are completely protected from estate tax when the second spouse dies.

Irrevocable Trusts

Often in your estate plan you want to complete a transfer of property during your life to take advantage of tax benefits or to ensure expenses or other costs that result at death do not affect transfer of the property. One way to transfer property during life is through the use of an irrevocable trust. An irrevocable trust cannot be changed once it is set up. An irrevocable trust can provide flexibility as to the distribution of the trust property during your life and after your death. Additionally, an irrevocable trust can allow you to take advantage of tax benefits only available by lifetime transfers of assets, while restricting control to those assets until the
beneficiaries are of age or maturity to receive them. Irrevocable trusts can include provisions to allow the grantor to take advantage of gift tax annual exclusions, federal estate tax exemption amounts or federal generation skipping transfer exemption amounts. Some of these tax advantages are not available in a living trust (also known as a revocable trust or grantor trust).