Sunday, January 13, 2008

How to Decide if you need a will, a living will, a living trust or all three.


How to Decide if you need a Will, a Living Will, a Living Trust or all three.


Difficulty: Easy

Things You'll Need

  • You'll need to read this short article.
  • Discuss it with your family members and loved ones.
  • Then get to work.



Step One

A Will, a Living Will and Living Trust
(Do you need one, two or all three?)

To write a will you must first know what a will is, what a will covers and doesn't cover, and what other legal estate planning documents you might want and need. A will, a living will, and a living trust are important legal documents. Every adult American should probably have one of each AND understand what each does. So that you will know the difference between a will, a living will and a living trust, I will briefly describe them and what each is used to accomplish.

What is a LIVING TRUST? You can put property into a living trust while you are still alive. When you die, your property automatically goes to your heirs without going through Probate Court, which can be very time consuming as well as expensive. You can revoke a living trust at any time if you change your mind, or simply amend and update it as situations change during your lifetime.

What is a LIVING WILL? A living will is a legally binding document that dictates one's wish NOT to be kept alive by artificial life support equipment in the event of a terminal illness or condition. By limiting treatment, a living will sets limits on hospital bills which can drain or even completely wipe out your assets, leaving little in your estate for your heirs.

What is a WILL? A will is a legal document that dictates how your property (real property, bank accounts and insurance benefits, etc.) is to be distributed after your death. It may also designate guardians for your children. Your will MUST pass through Probate Court before your estate can be distributed to your heirs. Whether you need a simple or a sophisticated will depends on your assets and you should know your situation well enough to determine if you need professional assistance in writing or filing them.

All three of the aforementioned legal documents can work together to satisfy your various estate planning needs. A living trust permits your financial assets to go to your heirs without the time and expense of probate. A will is used to cover all the property not included in the living trust; and remember, without a will the state will determine who gets your remaining property after taxes and fees have been paid.

A number of simple legal 'kits' containing fill-in-the-blank sample documents like the ones mentioned above are available at your local library as well as on the Internet. These kits are generally inexpensive and if you have the confidenc

Step Two

Now that you've read this article, show and discuss it with your family members and loved ones.

Step Three

Now, do further reasearch if you feel it's necessary either online, at the library or here at e-How; or, see a qualified attorney if you feel your case requires the services of a licensed professional. Ask for referrals from trusted, knowledgable friends or simply do a search of your local telephone directory.

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