The most critical aspects of an estate plan are determining how best to distribute your assets and making management of your affairs as easy on everyone as possible. This is accomplished through a will, sometimes assisted by one or more trusts.
Wills and trusts often serve different purposes, but both can work together in order to create a comprehensive plan. Our experienced Harrisonburg estate administration attorneys at Hoover Penrod PLC can help you understand your options and guide you in making the best decisions for you and your family.
That includes knowing when some techniques that might appear to be helpful actually create unnecessary and unhelpful complexity.
It is never too soon to start discussing how you will distribute your assets or wish for your affairs to be handled.
What is the Difference Between a Will and a Trust?
A will is a legal document that details how you would like your estate handled after you pass. This will include the distribution of assets, care for minor children, and other issues that will need settled following your death. A trust is a fiduciary agreement in which you designate a trustee to oversee your estate following your death. You can set up a trust for your children, for a nonprofit organization, or any other party you would like to include as a beneficiary.
The Main Components you Should Include in your Will
Your will should include exactly what you would like done with your assets and debts (estate) upon your passing. If you have minor children or animals in your care, your will may include guardianship wishes as well. Each estate is entirely unique. Wills can vary from person to person and should include everything pertinent to the individual. A useful way to make sure your will is inclusive is by working with an experienced lawyer.
Is There a Recommended Number of Trustees I Should Name?
Each trust is different. The number of trustees your name will be dependent on several factors that are unique to your situation. Many people name one trustee, but more than one is not uncommon. As with most things pertaining to wills and trusts, it can be a good idea to consult with a lawyer when determining who to name as your trustee(s).
What can Happen to your Assets if you do Not Write a Will
Dying without a will is called dying “intestate.” When you die intestate in Virginia, your assets will pass to your spouse and/or children. If neither is available, your assets will pass to your closest living relatives. In the extremely rare case that no relative can be located, your estate will escheat and become the property of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Does a Will Expire?
No. Wills do not expire. They can be adjusted, updated, and revoked, but they do not expire.
The time in your life when you should Write a Last Will and Testament
It is a good idea to draw up a will as soon as you have assets. This may be early in your adult life or later, but earlier is often best. Marriage, children, and other significant life events often prompt the writing of a will, but you needn’t be married or a parent to establish what you would like done with your estate when you pass. Your will can be modified at any time and should be updated as your financial and life circumstances change. Choosing a law firm that focuses on wills and trusts can help ensure that both the original document and all updates are kept safe and in accordance with your desires.